Work life balance – as far as I’m concerned can go suck a dic-tionary. Plenty of spare words in there for unsuspecting parents to latch onto and suck marrow out of every single emotion working as a parent brings forward.
In my 22 years of parenting I’m yet to find a sensible, guilt free role model to hitch my cart to. In fact, all I can say is thank god I’m not religious because balancing work, life and worship would have been the end of me.
I had a day out with my middle girl today. Middle girl and I have an honest (read h – o – n – e – s – t) friendship honed over our 20 year relationship. Middle girl (let’s call her Ms M) is the person who told me to sack my hairdresser because he kept giving me uncool mullets, that I shouldn’t leave the house looking like a pirate, and it was time to leave her dad because I deserved more.
Today we spoke about work ethic and how she attributes hers to me. Let me tell you, as a mum who has worked her butt off for decades that feels pretty bloody good. It feels even better knowing that after her gap year she’s loving every second of her studies as an Occupational Therapist majoring in Indigenous Health.
Early on I formed a loose philosophy about parenting and work and this amplified when I became a single mum 7 years ago. I wanted my kids to understand that serving your community (and if this is defined as working so be it) was an important part of life. I wanted them to understand that you can be ambitious and also present and I wanted them to see a mum who could – in many different arenas.
I’m sure you’ll understand when I tell you that not every day has been easy. In fact, when I spoke with my friend Deke Copenhaver a little while ago we discussed my early days of my becoming a single mum and what it was like to cry for 100kms, put on my makeup, get out of the car and pull off the ‘leader’ role.
Back then society was screaming at me to choose the kids – not the job. Luckily I had wiser role models who told me that there was a different way.
By my design my kids have been to business meetings, community festivals, staff planning sessions, courses, conferences, workshops and even protests. I wanted them to experience the full gamut of community life, to experience alternate views and to learn about service above self. Some days it really sucked for them.
These days, it would appear the long, boring days have paid off and they love their community just as much as I do.
Let me tell you – there’s nothing quite as satisfying.
So, parents, and particularly working mums. As you are weighing up your work hours, your ambition, your curiosity about your practice and your desire to lead your family your own way might I point out one important thing…
Your family – your choice. Lead your way. The things that bring you joy will always generate wellness among your kin. Don’t buy into the work/life balance stereotype and get out there and explore your boundaries. If it feels good chances are your little people are soaking it in too.
As I revisit 20 years in business I certainly remember when the days were tough. And now I bask in what turned out to be a series of great decisions through the lens of utterly magnificent kids who are following my path in serving others and loving their community.