I love you. You are my one & only. But sorry hubby, I’m just too busy & tired. That is the struggle of balancing motherhood, career & wife life. A life I know well.
My name is Penny and I’m a workaholic. I am the founder and creative director of Jolie Gotique, a unique fashion boutique concept named after my daughter Jolie. I’m also a mom to two spunky and lively children and the lucky wife to my husband of almost 13 years. I’m the Type A, Marie Kondo-like personality, that appreciates organization, schedules, to do lists and efficiency. I’m the type of woman who can be found walking into her home holding two backpacks, lunches, laptop, cell phone, tennis racquet, grocery bag and iced coffee simultaneously just so that I only need to make one trip into the house.
During a recent HEYMAMA “Working Moms & Marriage” event in Connecticut, co-sponsored by Jolie Gotique and The Local Moms Network, an interesting mama archetype came up for discussion: The Machine. The speaker, psychotherapist, Dr. Allyson Maida, used the word “machine” to describe mothers like myself–the always-working, multi-tasking type. The mom that doesn’t stop until the job is done, but occasionally runs out of fuel. I am her: an edgy and modern machine, held together with a funky belt, shiny buttons and fabulous stilettos. I am also the one who occasionally runs out of power even when her children and husband require more.
A Supportive Husband is key. Fortunately, my husband is exactly that. He supported my decision to launch a business and continues to be my biggest cheerleader. However, if asked, he would admit our lives would be simpler if I didn’t work. Groceries, carpools, activities, school events, social lives, vacations, doctor visits, meals, lunch boxes, forms upon forms to fill out and all of the emotional drama of being a mom–each of these tasks challenge our wife and mother roles. Having a career requires us to share time and space with all of these responsibilities.
Marriage and career are indeed compatible, mamas. Allyson explained that “Working, married mothers were once an anomaly. This is no longer the case. This anomaly has normalized.” Gender roles are changing in society, which is evident in these numbers:
- 47% of US workers are women.
- 70% of those women are mothers.
- 40% of those mothers are primary or sole earners.
- Women own approximately 10 million businesses accounting for 1.4 trillion in receipts.
Tips from a not-so expert, but happily married working mama:
Date Nights are precious in my marriage and they take place Saturday nights. For years, I’ve looked forward to Saturday night all week knowing that my husband and I will go on a true old-school date with romance, passion and a cocktail. The kind that gives me butterflies in my stomach when I spend extra time on my curls and fussing over my outfit. The kind of date where I order a dirty martini when the waiter comes so I can loosen up and forget about that crazy overwhelming to do list I left at the office. Most importantly, the date that has me concentrate solely on the man I married and still love.
The Parent Getaway is a simple mathematical equation with only one correct answer: parents + vacation – kids = connection. Once a year, we have the opportunity to leave my two children with their grandparents and take off on a kid-free two-night getaway to our destination of choice. The destination could be a staycation nearby or a short flight away but regardless it is majorly about the alone time and less about where we are. We center these mini getaways around our common interests. We always go somewhere we can be active or work out—often a beach— with great restaurants and just us two. Some of my favorite moments on these kid-free trips are the most simple. Holding hands while on a walk, uninterrupted conversation and my favorite—getting ready for a fun evening together with long showers and music like when we were first married. Plus, this serves as a sort of foreplay that everyone can enjoy.
Fitness serves as one of our best outlets for both individuals and couples. Have you heard the saying “couples that work out together stay together”? I’m a big believer in fitness and that physical wellness goes hand in hand with a happy married life. Fitness gives me confidence in my own body. It physically and mentally gives me strength. I am more focused and less anxious. Strength, focus, confidence are all factors that create a whole body & mind. When couples practice wellness together it can be a powerful tool for intimacy, love and feeling sexy. Let’s face it mamas, feeling sexy is key to intimacy and that’s an important part of marriage.
No More #MomGuilt is what I preach to all mamas, working or not, but especially working moms who are trying hard to balance a full life. Harboring guilt for missing the soccer tournament or having an empty fridge weighs heavily upon how we judge our worth, and how we interact with our children and husband. Recently my husband took both kids skiing without me. They left for eight hours on a Sunday and I was left to my own thoughts. I almost turned to my to-do list because that would have been the obvious choice. I almost went to the grocery store because food shopping would have been “productive”.
I almost spent the day doing a lot of not-so fun activities until I threw my #MomGuilt in the trash and decided to feed my soul. I worked out, went to a restaurant by myself for lunch, read and visited a friend for the afternoon. When my family returned I was rested, patient, excited to hear the details of their day. I had energy to shower them with attention, prepare dinner and give my husband the biggest kiss for knowing what I didn’t: how badly I needed the day to myself.
Relationships are complicated and working mama life is more complicated than a rubix cube, but keep Allyson’s advice in mind, “A strong relationship requires that you fall in love with your partner over and over again. Remain involved with each other and remember who you fell in love with to begin with.” If I can do that then so can you.
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