Since the 1970s, women have been entering the professional workplace in ever-increasing numbers. We can table, for the moment, the issue of how women are paid for that work, but it’s clear that women in the workplace will continue to grow, in my mind to the betterment of our country and our world. But for all the victories women have earned in business, there still isn’t enough accommodation for the dual responsibilities of women who are both professionals and mothers.
I am a business owner. I’m also a mother. When I got married, my husband had an 11-year-old and a 14-year-old. They had just lost their mom after a long-fought battle to cancer. They have an incredible dad, someone I love so deeply, but when I started my married life with him, I became a mother to two teens. Several years later, we added a son and another daughter. I don’t need to tell you that keeping my family going forward is a full-time job.
Only it isn’t, because I am still a business owner, one with clients that are owed every bit of the attention that my family does.
I don’t give advice lightly. However, over the course of the last decade of parenting, I’ve learned lesson upon lesson and the hard art of balancing. Humbly, I share a few of the most important lessons I’ve learned.
1. Every second counts. Time is money as they say. And in the life of motherhood, each second can be priceless or painful. That first moment your eyes lock with your new baby? Priceless. That three seconds you turned your back while your toddler is teetering on the playset? Painful. While I am at work, I am focused on the work and making every second mean something to both me and the brands I represent. Sure, I strive for only priceless moments but even with the inevitable painful ones, I know the wound will heal with proper care and attention and another lesson will be learned.
2. The power of persuasion. Ever had to convince a weepy broken-hearted teen that her heart will heal and she will find love again? I have and it’s one of the hardest sales I have ever had to close. Our clients come to us to help persuade the world to see the good in their brands and their people, believe in their impact and take note. As parents, we are constantly persuading our children to be good in the world, to see good in themselves and others and let that essence carry them forward.
3. Unknown territory is the norm. Every parent will tell you they wish their child came with an operating manual. A pipe dream that demands, we must, as parents, find comfort in living in the unknown. We are never fully in control of our charges, they are unique beings in the world and every day brings a new story. In media, this holds truer today than ever before. Every day the world brings a new breaking story or issue. We are mouth gaping with the opening of our papers, the scroll on our screens. We are living in unknown times and we arm our clients for this. We work to see what’s coming and to be prepared for what we don’t.
4. Every situation is a unique one. Every person deserves a blank slate. Here at Action Mary, we believe it’s our differences that unite us. It’s that message that our agency was founded on and it’s one that we bring to each our clients. Even though we are renegades in this industry, we approach every situation as if it’s the first time. We consider what we know, what we don’t and the world around us in every plan we devise. Much is the same with parenting. There is no master blueprint, no course to graduate from. Each child offers a unique spin on what we thought we already knew. Each child deserves to be treated as if no child has ever come before. Each client deserves the same.
5. We honor our commitments. A few weeks ago, I returned from a long day of business travel and immediately upon walking in the door, I found my youngest daughter in a puddle of tears, crying over having to go to her swim lesson, our nanny beside her pleading with to her to go. Immediately and without hesitation, I scooped her up on the floor, dried her eyes and told her she was going. I reminded her that in our house, we honor our commitments and that’s that. With a pouty lip and full of resolve, off she went to dive in.
We all want to be successful at what we do. Success, like failure, is a rope made of many strands of fiber.
My success is achieved through a loving husband and family, a stellar team of professional colleagues and a belief in who I am and what I can do. If I give you my word, you have it. No exceptions. Business and family today need more trust, more relationship, more humanity, and more integrity in our every day. After all, businesses are run by human beings, many of whom are mothers.