The Balancing Act: Mothers in Leadership

By Jacinta C. Mayronne @drcalzy

When I first began conversations with @WomenEd_US about hosting a potential chat titled 'Imperfection: Motherhood and Leadership,' it was back in March, before the majority of the United States began quarantining due to COVID-19. My perception and thoughts of what motherhood and leadership look and feel like are completely different now that I pick up my pen to write this blog six months later.

I’m sure parenting and juggling life and work obligations are different for every parent, and I’m also sure that one thing we all have in common is that it’s not easy.For me, now that I am working remotely, work seems a lot more demanding. Mother’s guilt is real. While I definitely experienced mother's guilt previous to this unfortunate pandemic, it didn't feel anything like what I'm currently experiencing, and that mother’s guilt is what makes us imperfect.

As mothers, we work so hard (some of us try to be perfectionists), but the reality is the perfect mother doesn't exist. This has been my realization as a mother of a 1-year-old and soon to be newborn. I’m not perfect as a mother, and I’m not perfect as an educational leader. All I can do is try my best. My colleagues and teachers have referred to me as the GOAT (greatest of all time) far too many times than I can count. Although it’s flattering, it’s disheartening because it’s at the cost of my son, my husband, and me pushing beyond my capacity as an employee.

I’ve questioned my roles, I’ve been temperamental, and I’ve had emotional breakdowns.

I’ve preached to my colleagues and my teachers to be graceful towards themselves and others. I’ve sent quotes and reminders such as 'Today is a new day. I will be flexible and set realistic expectations for myself. I will work at a pace that is sustainable for me. I will celebrate my wins along the way, no matter how small' (@fleurdelisspeaks/IG), and 'The struggles along the way are only meant to shape you for your purpose' (Chadwick Boseman). However, I wasn’t taking heed of my own advice and the inspirational quotes I was sharing. It comes naturally to put everyone else before myself, but in sharing this information, I felt like a fraud.

More recently, I’ve learned that the grace I give to others needs to be given to myself also. That means even the grace that I expect and need from others, I will need to give to myself.

In giving myself grace and setting necessary boundaries, I've claimed moments of self-care, and I encourage all mothers to do the same. Due to this pandemic and quarantining, self-care isn't glamorous. Sometimes it's as simple as watching Mickey Mouse Clubhouse and Puppy Dog Pals with my son or scrolling through Twitter and conversing with other academics and educational leaders.

Writing this blog was even therapeutic, and I hope it gives you all the sense that you’re not alone in this balancing act of work obligations, motherhood and leadership.

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