Career and Motherhood with #NorthwoodForMoms

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I have been compensated for my time at this event and the writing of this post.  Regardless, all opinions are 100% my own and 100% honest.
Is there such a thing as "striking balance" between career and motherhood? Is there a secret to not overexerting yourself in all of your roles? Join the conversation.

Motherhood has turned out to be nothing like I expected.

Don’t get me wrong; there is immense joy and love, and having my children has been the most important thing I have done or will ever do.  The fact that I have been able to bring these special souls into this world is a privilege I’m not sure I am deserving of.

And that’s where it gets messy.

Messy like my house.

Messy with my schedule.

Messy with those initial sleepless nights, and messy with my inner battle to be a good mother while fulfilling myself in my own individuality.

I am not alone.

The other night, I was honored to attend an event at Northwood Realty with some of the most powerful women in the Pittsburgh blogging sphere. We were all mothers. We all work.

Some of the women were able to work solely through their blogs. Some of us choose to continue to work outside the home. And yet some more of the women were Northwood agents.

We all had a respect for those who choose and are able to stay at home.

Northwood For Moms was an event where we could sit down and parse all of that out.

The Conversation.  The Inspiration.

We met at Northwood’s beautiful office in Seven Fields.  We had small break out sessions where we chatted in small groups led by one of the Northwood hosts.  Then we all came together to have a group conversation centered around career and motherhood.

As a total introvert, I loved the small group sessions. I learned so much about these women and how they deal with the day-to-day. How I can deal with the day-to-day.

One of the agents has built her business to a level where her husband can stay home for a while, even though he makes an income that would support them without her working outside the home.

One of them is supporting her two children, one of them with severe disabilities, on her own as a single mother.

Another rocked my world with a brand of feminism that I can get down with:  Her kids need to see and respect that women work. So while she appreciates the flexibility her agency gives her as a mother, she doesn’t turn down big opportunities simply because she has a family.

The large group session was amazing, too. I sat and listened, not wanting to interrupt the amazing advice that was being poured out.

Oddly enough, I’m 100% fine speaking in front of large groups of people; but large group discussions?  I’m a little more reserved.

My favorite quote of the night came from Muffy from Brown Mama’s:

She talked about how we shouldn’t overexert ourselves. How we really should focus on who we are and what we are doing in the moment.

Because when we take on so much that we get overwhelmed, not only does our quality of work as a mother, writer or career woman go down, but we’re denying ourselves the joy of being our full and best selves in that instant.

One of the guests brought up that she loved that the antiquated idea of women being able to find balance was receding.

Which sparked a lively, respectful debate, as apparently the idea hasn’t been retired on all fronts.

I, too, think that the idea of striking a balance isn’t the goal. I prefer the concept that there is no such thing as balance, but there is such a thing as rhythm.

The idea of balance and having it all seems to insinuate that the goal is becoming the perfect Suzy Homemaker, successful and powerful in your career, and still have time to socialize and put on the perfect amount of lipstick for every outing.

One thing I’ve learned since becoming a mother is that if I want to make more money, I have to take more time away from my kids.  If I want to spend more time with my kids, I have to sacrifice some income.  Not that’s it’s ever not 100% worth it.

And, as one of the agents sagely pointed out, when my business is doing well, my laundry is piling up at an alarming rate.  If my house is perfectly clean, it probably means my hands haven’t been as busy in my career.

So often as women we’re expected to be perfect at all of these things. Whether these expectations are put upon us by the oligarchy or by each other is irrelevant. The permission to be imperfect, or even reject one of these life goals entirely — for example, I never wear lipstick, and I’m not Suzy homemaker — is true liberation.

The open admission of struggle is difficult, but freeing. The acceptance of it allows us to love ourselves fully and be that me of the moment — without the nagging voice in the back of our heads telling us we have to do more and be better to meet some arbitrary image of the “perfect” 20th/21st century woman.

I don’t want this conversation to be over.  How do you feel about “balance” as a woman in our times?  Did Muffy’s words impact you as much as they did me?

22 thoughts on “Career and Motherhood with #NorthwoodForMoms

  1. Inequality Today

    Can’t speak for myself as I’m not a women, but I do feel like women have it harder than us guys in this day and age. Women still primarily take care of the kids (although guys are stepping up to the plate on the home front more than before), and they also have a career. The majority of males still primarily focus on their careers, with taking care of children being of secondary importance.

    1. Femme @ femmefrugality

      Culturally our careers come second. While I think kids should come first in every parent’s life, that’s why I liked the one agent’s perspective of her children seeing that her career was important, too.

  2. themomoftheyear

    I struggle SO much with balance–all the time, actively, every day. It’s not an easy thing AT ALL. Thanks for sharing this perspective and insight–and for keeping the conversation going. xo

  3. Chela

    I´m not a mom yet, and I already struggle, trying to find balance between having an awesome career and being Martha Stewart at home. I want to be both, sincerely, and you´re right. It´s very much about finding rhythm. But gosh, once kids are in the mix I know it will be a very steep learning curve for finding that rhythm again. But ultimately, I think I CAN do it all, if I have patience with myself. Hahaha! Am I delusional?

    1. Femme @ femmefrugality

      Going to be brutally honest, and it’s very possible that I just haven’t achieved perfection so my views are skewed. I think you can have it all, but not all at once. I can’t work full time at a job that is only in operation 9-5 and take my kids to the museum on random weekday mornings. I can’t keep my house sparkling and have time to sleep. I can’t do every Pinterest craft in the world to make my house look seasonal and spend quality time with my kids after work. Different parts of our life shoot up on our priority list as time ebbs and flows, and I think that’s fine. Maybe there are superwomen out there that can do all of these things, and maybe you’ll be one of them! But I am definitely not. :p

  4. kay @

    Don’t forget, women are also expected to get their pre-baby body back within 2 weeks after giving birth and still have a robust sex life while taking care of an infant and having a thriving career. If anyone can achieve perfect balance, God bless ’em.

  5. Femme @ femmefrugality

    Haha amen. Moving to the city has been really good for my body image. Not as many rampant glorified eating disorders as in the suburbs. 100% pleased with my post baby body? Heck no. But it also doesn’t define who I am in all these other aspects of my life. I can’t believe this didn’t come up in retrospect. Thank you for bringing it to light!

  6. Prudence Debtfree

    Balance was the mythical Shangri La I used to long for. I gave up that quest a while ago : ) For mothers of young children, I think there are three ways to achieve a semi-balance:
    1. Have an amazing husband.
    2. Be Superwoman.
    3. Hire domestic support.
    As children get older, the balance comes back.

    1. Femme @ femmefrugality

      I have one but lack two and three! Though three seems more realistic for me and could probably help a lot. I’m not going to lie, I’ve paid Homme to come over and wash dirty dishes before.

      Looking forward to getting some of it back while trying to appreciate these moments that I know will seem fleeting in retrospect!

  7. Hannah

    I just wanted to thank you for covering this event- I’ve never heard of something like this, but It makes me want to look for something similar here in Raleigh- I’m sure I could find something.

  8. eemusings

    Rhythm not balance – that’s a new one to me but I think I like it.

    I personally do not believe perfect, true balance is possible so that’s why this resonates with me. Would love to think it’s receding. But I know TONS of other people disagree and think it’s possible. Not sure if it’s differing definitions/standards, or just agree to disagree.

    1. femmefrugality

      I loved it when I heard it, too. It rings a lot more true to me. I think it might be differing standards or definitions, but a larger part of me thinks people are too hesitant to be real. Either they’ve thrown away some of the pressures society tries to push onto us as women, or they’re trying to pretend like the life they portray on Facebook is all that there is. I mean that for everyone…individuals, influencers, anyone.

      Maybe I’m dead wrong. Maybe there is a perfect balance I haven’t achieved. I really tend to think that being more open about struggle is more productive, though. When others have done so, it’s allowed me to realize I’m not so alone.

  9. vmorgan456

    My mother always told me the dishes can get caught up later but right now you need to play with your child. Of course, now I tell my daughter this…
    It can get overwhelming fast whether you are a stay at home Mom or a work away from home Mom. Even this retired stay at home babysitting Grandma get’s exhausted. A nap is always good!
    Vickie’s Kitchen and Garden

    1. femmefrugality

      Oh, naps! How I miss those! And I totally agree; work at home, work out of the home, or stay at home momming are all exhausting callings. And all deserve their due credit. And grandmas do, too! That was one thing that came up that I didn’t mention….all of us concluded that we couldn’t do everything we’re doing without grandmas! So a collective thank you for being one of the amazing women who makes it happen!

  10. Hayley @ Disease Called Debt

    Much of what you’ve written here is what I’ve been thinking about lately! I constantly struggle to balance being a mother, with my job and keeping on top of the housework too. Usually the housework takes third priority every time! I guess it’s ok to not be able to do “everything” but the trick is being able to think like that so you can allow yourself to have that balance.

  11. Mel

    I clearly don’t have much of an idea what I’m talking about here since I don’t have a family, but I’ve always thought it was interesting when I was in college that all of the successful female stage managers who were still in the business beyond like 25 were single and with no children. I think because of that mentality, I’ve never really believed in the balance. I’ve felt that if I want to go for this, I can’t go for that, because I won’t be able to give that any time or I’ll have to give up this.

  12. Toni @ Debt Free Divas

    OH MY I LOVE THIS!!! Finding a rhythm is so appropriate. Messy messy messy. Yes indeed. But I wouldn’t change it – except for a little less messy hair now and then. LOL! Sounds like a great event. It’s nice to get out around the flesh and blood vs the virtual conversation some times.

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