(That is speaker Jennifer Hamady with her two favorite guys!)
Mother’s Day is here! I asked some of the mothers in our speaker roster about their thoughts on motherhood as working moms. Check out what keynote speakers Jennifer Hamady, Ashley English, and Candace Doby had to say about!
1) You’re a working mom! When I think back to the days when I wasn’t self employed, I often think the most important gesture that an employer can offer is flexibility and an appreciation for the juggling act that IS working as a parent. What do you think employers can offer to celebrate mothers at work, especially as they juggle their work roles, pandemic life, and the joys/challenges of parenting?
Jennifer: I too think that flexibility and understanding are key. I liken work– like life, like relationships– to a dance. And dancing requires movement and fluidity. Life works– and working motherhood works– when there is ebb and flow. And an appreciation of that ebb and flow as natural and necessary.
Ashley: I have to concur. Flexibility is the best gift an employee can offer a mom. As the saying goes “Hope for the best, plan for the worst.” We make our plans, and then, sometimes, oftentimes, if I’m being honest, life intervenes. Maybe your kid is sick, and you get behind on work as a result. The flexibility necessary to navigate life’s extenuating circumstances is the best possible gift an employer could grant a parent.
Candace: Employers can start the celebration by acknowledging and trying to understand the dozens of hats mothers wear (and wear well). They can continue the celebration by offering benefits at work around flexible work schedules, childcare and mental health.
2) What are some of your favorite Mother’s Day memories?
Ashley: On my first Mother’s Day with our child Alistair, who was still in the NICU then (he was there for 11 weeks in total), the NICU nurses made special cards for all us moms, saying they were from our babies. That gesture, coupled with my most beloved nurse in the NICU giving me a lovely box set of Lily of the Valley soaps, left an indelible memory during an otherwise very harrowing time. I also remember my very first Mother’s Day, in 2011, when, for the first time, I wasn’t just celebrating my own mother, but was celebrated by my spouse as the mother of his child. That was profoundly special, to move from a passive to an active mothering role.
Candace: This will be my first Mother’s Day, and I’m anticipating it more than I imagined I would. My daughter, Zuri, is 5 months old, and I’m excited about helping her develop into a courageous person.
Jennifer: Since the birth of our son, and even when he was in the womb, my husband and I have taken the day to pause and reflect on the gift that he is in our lives. Our greatest teacher, our clearest mirror… it is an honor to be a mother and to celebrate the myriad gifts that it provides on that day, and every day.
3) What are your tips for other moms who are parenting as working people?
Candace: As a courage coach and new mom, I have a unique opportunity to apply what I know and continue to learn about courage to create the appropriate space for my new role. I’ve had to adjust the way I approach work, confront my own beliefs, and say ‘no’.
My tip for other moms, especially new moms, is to practice saying ‘no.’ Practice when you’re in the shower, in line at the grocery store or sitting on the couch after a long day. Practice saying ‘no’ so that when you really need to say it, you’ll utter it with confidence. This may sound silly, but there’s research that supports that it’s easier to say ‘no’ when you know how to say it.
Jennifer: I do my best to view challenges– all challenges– as opportunities. To lean into difficulty, whether scheduling, life-balance, or deadline related. I find that doing so reframes the ‘toughness’ of being a working mom as ‘opportunity’. I have heard it said that people always have problems. The goal in life, if you want to live a great one, is to find bigger problems for yourself. I love this. When reframed as opportunities, they are interesting puzzles to solve rather than insurmountable and unpleasant obstacles.
Ashley: Kids thrive on routine, with plenty of wiggle room for spontaneity thrown in. To that end, having set days of the week be “known” days for designated meals/foods/etc. can prove helpful to both them and you. It can reduce the scramble and hustle of mornings, especially. For instance, knowing that Monday mornings are for bagels (served to preference), while Tuesdays are for waffles, Wednesdays are cold cereal/granola, Thursdays are scrambled eggs, and Fridays are cheesy grits, or something akin and agreed upon in your respective homes, helps streamline the morning rush.
Thanks to our speaker moms who took the time to share their mommy wisdom! Wishing all of you who celebrate Mother’s Day a beautiful day of celebrating YOU!