A Working Mom Leans In and Steps Up

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Over the last two weeks, I’ve been in Fort Worth, San Francisco and NYC. As a single mom of twin 15-year-old boys, I’m fairly adept at juggling business meetings, but this has been the most intense travel schedule in the last three years. Unfortunately, there was a bit of a melt down in my household.

I calmly explained that travel was part of my new role, this was a “big week” for me and I needed them to step up. One son retorted, “Mom, it’s a big week for me too- I have CAPT testing and state swim championships.” The other chimed in, “I have CAPT testing too, plus Crossfit training and there’s a new game coming out on Xbox.” Even my babysitter, an elementary school teacher, responded, “It’s a busy time for me too- we have registration all week activities, plus teaching.” Ok, so high marks for communicating well as a family, but a revolt was still brewing.

Sheryl Sandberg’s Book

Sheryl Sandberg’s new book Lean In has re-energizing the discussion on how women can achieve their ambitions in the workplace as well as home. Sandberg promotes talking openly about the challenges you face in the workplace and home. She also purports that fewer women aspire to senior positions because of the demands and trade offs. I’ve explained to my boys that I love them unconditionally, but I also love to work, and I’m good at it. At this point in my career, I can’t put my ambitions on hold until they go off to college. It’s not always pretty, but every day you prioritize, work hard, and roll with the latest crisis. I’ve “leaned in” to my authentic self- embracing my career aspirations, asking for help and holding myself accountable to achieve my goals. I am fortunate that I primarily work remote, which affords more family/personal time than if I was in the office 10-12 hours a day. Also, I am grateful that my Roberts Golden team, led by Sara Roberts, understands work-life integration and provides support and flexibility.

What I’ve come to realize is that time with my boys is a series of inconsequential events- listening to what happened in Spanish class over an afternoon snack of peanut butter crackers and apple slices, taking stats at a basketball game, driving to/from practice, watching the finale of Grey’s Anatomy together on the couch, etc. Sewn together-they make up a hectic, but joy-filled life.

So what happened? We all stepped up! I spent Saturday prepping four favorite crockpot recipes and coordinated rides to practices, Kinser took on the laundry for the week, James agreed to make breakfast and Sarah came home by 5:30. We acknowledged that the stress that each of us was feeling about the upcoming week was very real and we needed to shift and prioritize together to get through the week (Admittedly, my efforts pay the bills, but I chose not to play the trump card!)

I cringe when I see a stock photo of a working mom- poised at her computer with a bubbly infant perched on her lap, gnawing on her Blackberry while she sorts through files and toys strewn across her desk. What’s your snap shot of the working mom? (See above for mine)

What are your juggling stories?

What stories do you have on juggling a “big week? How do you juggle travelling? I look forward to your comments.

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Comments

  1. Great post, Lisa.

    One of the big challenges for employers going forward is to continue to be flexible with schedules and remote work in such a way that parents (moms and dads) can spend time with their families doing the little things while also having the high powered executive careers like the one you have.

    The companies that do this will tap into a workforce others are missing out on and gain a huge competitive advantage.

    Thanks for sharing.

    Best,

    Rory

    Reply
    • I agree Rory! Companies that leverage flexible and remote work arrangements for all employees (women and men!) will have a competitive advantage for attracting top talent. Thanks!

      Lisa Bonner |
      Reply
      Lisa Bonner
  2. Really enjoyed reading this article – the key take-away is learning how to listen well and communicate before the blow. I’ve had the joy of raising 6 kids – while raising my bar to become a high level executive.

    Not only does it matter at home to pre-communicate your upcoming schedule and conflicts – it matters at work. Your teams and your colleagues will support you in your efforts just as much as your family.

    In all of the reading I’ve done – it bothers me that there is controversy in this topic. Each woman/mom/wife/daughter/executive has their own road to travel and their own story to tell. All of us as women need to celebrate and “lean on” each story and each other instead of tearing down life choices we make.

    Lynne J. Johnson

    Lynne Jarman-Johnson |
    Reply
    • Six kids! Wow! I tip my hat to you Lynne!

      I that pro-active communication is key. I often say that the best defense is a good offense! In my family we talk through the schedule on Sunday nights, but we’re allowed to callout an “audible” (sports reference- when the quarterback changes in the play on the line) if needed.

      I encourage you to tell your story too. I’ll look for it on leanin.org. :)

      Lisa Bonner |
      Reply
      Lisa Bonner
  3. Lisa,
    Loved this post! Leaning In for many professional women who have careers and families comes down to leaning into your authentic self, as you say. Finding the flexibility to stay committed to your goals and be there for those seemingly inconsequential but so important moments is the way forward. Each week, an adventure.
    – Emily

    Reply
    • Thanks for your comment Emily! I agree- being true to your authentic self and staying to committed to your goals, despite the shifting winds, is critical.

      Lisa Bonner |
      Reply
      Lisa Bonner

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