I’ll be honest — if it weren’t for my nanny, the beds in my home would rarely be made and it would take a day or two before I would be able to clean up the orange-juice spill on the high chair. As the CEO of several companies and the mother of a toddler whose mission in life is to cover everything in sight with syrup, ketchup or “other,” I simply don’t have time to tend to all of life’s little surprises. My work and travel schedule are hectic, and I often feel guilt-ridden that I work too much. It is extremely hard to admit this as a mother: I’m not perfect. There, I said it.
“You need to do it all yourself, and do it all perfectly” has been the mantra of working mothers and homemakers around the globe for the past century. I want to dispel this misconception, which leaves phenomenal women feeling “less than,” compared to this figment known as the Almighty Supermom. Show me a mother who can do it all (and do it perfectly), and I’ll show you God herself.
We do a disservice to our children by believing that we will ever attain parenting perfection. It is our duty as working moms to make sure our kids understand the sacrifices we ultimately make for their well-being.
When my daughter was born, I bought into the fantasy to which all new mothers seem to fall victim. I envisioned myself glamorously preparing yummy, organic after-school nibbles in my best June Cleaver flounce skirt and sensible kitten heels, all while simultaneously running a thriving business brokerage firm and effortlessly teaching my genius three-year-old daughter Latin. Needless to say, reality woke me up faster than my child’s midnight wailings. I realized that no matter how hard I tried, I would never measure up to that ominous maternal idol, Supermom. I was a shell of myself, just trying to keep up with life’s daily demands.
But one day, it dawned on me: If I were to be any good to my family, friends, clients and employees, I would have to embrace the imperfect woman that I am and strive for my personal best. I decided to run my life like a business. I categorize activities as “A,” “B,” or “C,” and delegate “B” and “C” tasks to helpers whenever possible. We as businesswomen, mothers and wives need to focus on energy management, as opposed to time management.
I also realized that is never too early to teach your children about money, business and work ethic. My nanny and housekeeper involve my 3-year-old in all aspects of running the household, including daily chores so she can learn the necessities of life. But most importantly, she learns from me how to live life as a strong, successful, independent woman.
It is also imperative to forgive yourself for not being able to bear witness to every single “first” in your child’s life. I am proud to say I have made almost all “first events” and I schedule quality time to spend with my daughter daily. I am so grateful to be a mommy in today’s technological era, as my nanny sends me photos and videos several times a day to keep me abreast of all things new.
It’s time to redefine what being a modern-day mom means. I don’t want my child growing up with the notion that you have to do everything yourself at all times. It’s important to me that she understands that I create jobs and employ great people to handle tasks, so that I am afforded the opportunity to focus on what I deem as the bigger picture in my family’s life — which for me includes my husband, daughter and all of my entrepreneurial endeavors.
My biggest hope as a mother is that my daughter understands that her mother lived her life as an example of what a mother’s love looks and feels like. I want her to remember Michelle, the mother, businesswoman and role model, not the “perfect” mom who made the gooiest chocolate-chip cookies. On my mothering journey, I have grown to understand, and dare I say, love the enigma that is Supermom. And I’ve discovered that she lives inside every mother. She is all-encompassing.
Seven Tips for Balancing Supermom & Business-mom
1 Focus on energy management, not time management. Write down everything you do for 30 days and categorize tasks into three categories.
“A”-level activities are the activities in which you thrive; they are imperative for you to take your business to the next level. The results of these activities will suffer if they are delegated.
“B”-level activities are tasks at which you are great, but which can be delegated: think emails, phone calls and bookkeeping.
“C”-level activities are tasks that zap your energy and must be delegated, such as housekeeping, running errands, etc. These tasks do not grow your business; rather, they drain your energy level.
2 Hire a great team to do “B”- and “C”-level activities. It takes a village to raise a child.
3 Create a sustainable business that works for you, rather than you working for it. This will provide you with the flexibility to spend energizing, quality time with your children.
4 Work hard, play hard. Schedule several mommy/child play days per month, and at least three vacations per year.
5 Bring your child to work and teach him or her about business, money and entrepreneurship. Kids are never too young to start learning.
6 Be positive. Moms who express negative sentiments toward their kids are likely to find themselves with aggressive offspring down the line.
7 Perfection is not an option. Nobody’s perfect, so don’t torture yourself with the “Supermom” ideal. Make an effort to ignore the pressure, and you may find yourself a perfectly imperfect mother.