The great debate - Can working Moms ever really win?
By: Kerry Lyons | Published Tuesday, November 1, 2011, 7:13 PM | Updated Tuesday, November 1, 2011, 7:13 PM
Last week, I shared some thoughts on my life as a working mom on the New York Times parenting blog, Motherlode. Under the headline of How She Does It, I sought to answer the question that I -- and many other Moms -- are constantly asked: how do you do it?
I answered from my perspective which apparently (and unfortunately!) led some readers to believe that I am either A. a single Mom or B. a self-centered wife who gives my amazing husband Des no credit. Neither is true. And the mixed commentary caused me to wonder once again if working moms can ever really win.
Like most moms, I struggle with the juggle and admit to occasionally dropping the ball, as Lisa Belkin noted in her lead-in to my piece. There are days -- in fact, even weeks and months -- when I feel like I'm stretched too thin and not doing any of "it" well. If I'm thriving at work, I'm not spending enough time at home and if my home-life is thriving, then something at work may be sacrificed. While I strive for perfection at home and at work, I've learned let go a little bit, to let things slide, to overlook the Legos in the living room or occasionally show up for a meeting in a snot-stained sweater. Most simply put, I do the best I can, at work and at home, each and every day.
It's not easy. Like most folks,we worry about money. We worry about raising happy, healthy, well-adjusted kids. We worry about our marriage, about finding time for each other in the whirlwind of our lives. We know that as tough as it is now, our role as parents will get tougher as the kids get older. We hope when that day comes, I'll have more flexible hours so I can help with homework, shuttle to sports, and truly tune-in to the teenage angst that surely awaits.
But that is then. This is now. I work because I have to and feel fortunate that I actually like to. I can't spend too much time worrying about tomorrow because frankly, it takes all the energy I have just to get through today. For the record, I don't get through the days on my own. Des and I are a team. And a good one at that. Much to our own dismay, we sometimes find ourselves humming that annoying Wonder Pets jingle..."How's it gonna work? TEAMWORK!" He vacuums, I do the laundry. I do the grocery shopping, he cooks. We share childcare duties and are both experts at changing diapers, giving baths, packing snacks, making lunches… the list goes on and on.
Our kids know that they're part of a team too -- and that being on a team requires teamwork. They may be young but we want to instill in them a sense of responsibility and a strong work ethic. That's why at four and six years old respectively, Ciara and Liam make their beds. And although they are not yet three, Kevin, Declan and Cormac know to clear their plates and put books back on the shelves. It's all about teamwork. As a husband and wife, Des and I make a great team. As parents, we have great pride in the little team of Lyons Cubs that we get the pleasure of raising.
It helps that we don't take ourselves too seriously. We laugh. A lot. I often say that life in the Lyons Den is like that famed fable... when it's good, it's really really good and when it's bad, it's horrid. We have really bad, wicked, screaming, crying, temper tantrum, totally losing it, horrid moments. Doesn't everyone have them? Given the number of kids we have, we probably have more meltdowns more often than most. But they pass. And then we laugh. And we remind ourselves that no matter how bad it gets, no matter how tired we are, we are lucky to have each other and our five kids are a blessing.
They remind us daily of what's most important -- the time we spend together. I cherish that time. And I cherish a break from it as well. I suppose that's why, for now, I'm A-OK with being a working mom. And I can't help but hope that by the time my daughter is faced with choosing a career or motherhood, that she can choose both -- ideally without engaging in a debate. I hope that by then, the working moms and stay at home moms will have drawn a truce and recognized that there are "different strokes for different folks" and really, isn't it about time we all got along?