I recently saw a mug that said “World’s Okayest Mom” and laughed out loud. My visceral reaction to such a simple phrase was surely rooted in my own insecurity as a mother. While I have learned to shed the judgment of others, I’m constantly working to manage the expectations I place on myself.
Being both a Woman in Business and a mother is the reality for many of us. Women often feel as though they can either thrive in one arena or the other, but not both simultaneously. The idea of “having it all” is not necessarily the problem, but the idea of perfection in both arenas is dangerous. Finding peace with being “okay” rather than the “best” is not easy, but there are steps women can take to accomplish such an important mindset.
Step #1: It’s okay if your best is just okay.
Perfection is a noble pursuit. Finding the perfect dress. Making the perfect cake. Writing the perfect letter. These are all possible. Being the perfect mother is not possible. You will have glimpses of perfection, like when your child chooses the banana over the cupcake, or when your kids don’t fight the whole car ride to Michigan, or when they hold the door open for a stranger. You’ll think “I’m really doing a good job of raising them! I’m setting a good example!” But chances are, these feel like rare examples, not consistent narrative about your parenting. And sometimes your best is perfect, and sometimes your best is just okay. It’s okay to just be okay. Make sure your village (see #2) is full of people who love you for being your best, not perfect.
Step #2 Find your village
Friends, family, neighbors, and colleagues are humans that should make up your village. These are the people (mostly women) who provide support through a listening ear and heartfelt advice. These are the people who do not judge you, but rather cry with you, laugh with you, and tell you what you need to hear. Your village should be diverse – women older than you, women younger than you, working women, stay at home moms, women of diverse backgrounds. We gravitate towards women we can relate to, but we also need to see how people who are different from us tackle similar challenges and celebrate similar accomplishments.
Step #3 Self-care is not a luxury, it is a necessity.
Women often feel responsible for the health, well-being, and success of their entire families and sometimes even their clients. So who is responsible for your healthy, well-being and success? You are! When you need time to go to the gym, get a pedicure, or read a book without interruption, it can feel like you’re being selfish. You’re not. I wouldn’t even call these things indulgencies, I would call them necessities. For those of you who feel guilt for being away from your babies, or your ailing parents, or your needy client, you must remember, that you are no use to those around you when you’re not your best self (see #1).
With Mother’s Day just around the corner, remember to celebrate yourself and the mothers around you. We don’t need to be perfect to be celebrated.
In addition to holding the title of “World’s Okayest Mom” Rebecca Malotke-Meslin is the Director of Admission and Financial Aid at The Avery Coonley School in Downers Grove, a Preschool – 8th grade independent education for academically bright and gifted children. She is also the mother of two boys, and a Naperville resident.