I have a secret for you, corporate moms, you can have it all.
Actually, that’s not the secret at all.
The secret is in the HOW.
You can have it all because you get to define what “it all” means. Spoiler alert- what “it all” is – how you define that – that it is entirely up to you. That is the secret. That is the tweet (as the kids say… so I’m told).
So – why do women always feel like they can’t have it all?
Oh, you know, just because nearly every sect and sub-sect of our society tells women that; television shows, our employers, our children, our children’s school, our Instagram Feed, our husbands, our neighbors…magazines. billboards. You name it, for years I thought that having it all literally meant having it all:
- a stellar high visibility career
- billboard worthy family photos
- peak postpartum eating habits
- a workout regimen that I never missed
- freshly laundered AND put-away clothes in my Marie Kondo-ed closet inside my dream house
- babies that sleep through the night by two months old
- potty trained without effort, and eating the dinner I made
- perfect relationships with a slew of girlfriends and regular girls weekend trips to mountain resorts with massages
- a husband that cared for me, cherished me, and wined and dined me, despite the fact that he had his own high visibility career and was an involved father.
That is what I thought having it all meant.
I looked at other people’s definition of what “it all” was and tried to apply that standard to myself. More realistically, I looked at 30 different versions of “it all” and decided I would only be enough if I could miraculously combine all those into one superhuman being. Have you been there, mama?
My name is Krista Thompson. I’m the Associate General Counsel for a company on the space coast of Florida and a single mom of three wild and wildly beautiful kids aged one, two and a half, and four (yep, a little crazy). I started a blog last year called Recovering Superwoman because that’s what I am. I’m a woman who used to try to do it all, and I am recovering from that toxic way of thinking perpetuated by society, the media, the patriarchy, and yes, other moms. Somewhere along my journey in the last few years I was clued in on a secret. “It all” was whatever the hell I wanted it to be. I spent a lot of time over the last two years figuring out who I am- what values define me and what I care about- and used those to shape what was important to me as I executed on my life each day. There’s a lot competing for my time these days and only so much of me to go around. Here are some of the tough questions I had to ask myself:
- Is it critical for my kids to be involved in multiple activities at a time or is that unnecessary and more focus should be put on family time?
- Is it important to find a sitter a few nights a week so I can engage in activities that grow me, like Bible Study and my codependency support group or even dinner with friends? Or am I okay sacrificing those things while my children are so young?
- Is an exciting and fun job that supports the life we live worth the required travel and time away from my kids or did I need to find a different path?
It took me some time to answer these questions, but I can tell you, the effort in figuring out who I am and what is important to me was worth the time. I should also add that I’m glad I embarked on this journey in the BC times – you know, Before Covid. The pandemic has thrown us all into an unprecedented situation personally, professionally, and even spiritually. Having some clarity on who I was going into the pandemic made some of the really tough choices I had to make about schooling and childcare easier. Not easy, just easier. So, I decided what “it all” meant to me- and here’s what I came up with.
There is nothing more important in my life, no more important role in my life, than that as a mother to my children. That doesn’t mean that my children are my entire world, though. In the proverbial pie that is my life- my role as a mother is just one piece of the pie. Another huge piece of this is my professional self. I am overflowing with ambition and am driven by the desire to succeed, to do challenging and meaningful work, and to make an impact- on my department, on my company, and on my industry. I am tired- a lot. I am intimidating to most men who try to have a relationship with me, but I’m no longer shy about that. I am hopelessly romantic. I am a Christian with a true heart for Christ. I am at times lazy. I am a Celine Dion fanatic- like, hard core (to the extent Celine Dion and hard core can be used in the same sentence). I am codependent. I like to drink wine and love champagne- probably too much. I am fiercely loyal. I am not always kind to myself, nor do I have a great sense of self-worth.
Corporate mamas, I’m a recovering superwoman.
Part of figuring that out meant identifying and understanding what and who I am not.
- I am not the mom that will feel guilty about dropping her kids off at school where they stay for 9- 10 hours so I can work.
- I do not have to compromise my values or any part of me for anyone else, unless I freely choose to do so.
- I am not apologetic for my ambition.
- I am not the most organized person in the world.
- I am not the mom who will care how neurotic school administration thinks I am when I go all Sherlock Holmes investigating the causes of bumps and bruises that show up when my kids come home from school.
- I am not going to downplay my accomplishments or be quiet in meetings with the executive suite because men have some hang-ups about confident and assertive women.
- I am not for sale, and I am not going to give myself to people for free.
I have completely leaned into this over the last few years. It took an extraordinarily unhealthy relationship with another person as well as an unhealthy relationship with myself for me to recognize that I couldn’t be everything for or to everyone, and that I no longer wanted to be. As soon as I accepted that, I unleashed the power of the most authentic version of myself. And you know what? I lost “me” for a long time being caught up in who the world thought I should be – no more. I’m here. I’m fierce. I’m me.
Take it or leave it, world. This is me having it all. Be well and stay safe,
Krista L Thompson, Esq.