As I reflect on my life as a mother of four children and as an entrepreneur, I wonder how I accomplished it all.
I know I’m not alone. As a coach, I have heard many female optometrists describe the difficult balancing act required to be professionals, wives and mothers, let alone friends, mentors and volunteers.
My upbringing taught me a lot about compliance, but little about having a voice. I took my service-oriented mindset into married life, and adopted the belief that it was my responsibility to make my husband and children happy.
I set high standards for how our home was managed, and set unrealistic expectations for myself. I dedicated myself to doing everything at home and all I could for my family, without ever considering what I could or should do for myself.
Much has changed since then. My children have grown into thoughtful, caring and successful human beings who are leading successful lives, and beginning to care for the next generation. Families today are having different conversations about balancing responsibilities within and outside of the home. Employers are increasingly aware of work-life balance. More women than ever are able to manage careers, children, and other ambitions.
Still, the path to success in any area of life is hardly easy.
One of my favourite authors Tiffany Dufu puts it eloquently: “Drop the ball: to release unrealistic expectations of doing it all and engage others to achieve what matters most to us, deepening our relationships and enriching our lives.”
I know many female business leaders who are keen to help others achieve their hopes and dreams, but fail to engage others to help themselves achieve what matters most to them.
It takes courage to ask for help, and to try something new. It’s hard to drop the ball. It may feel counterintuitive. But prioritizing self-care and nurturing our personal and professional goals is critical – not just for ourselves, but for those who rely on us. Doing less creates room for us to be able to do more in areas that are more meaningful to us. Failing to take responsibility for every little thing means creating space to succeed on the big things, including motherhood, career success, deepening our most important relationships, and pursuing our greatest ambitions.
This Mother’s Day, I’m thankful for the women who push themselves to provide for their families, lead their employees, grow their businesses and help their communities.
One of the best gifts a mother can give herself is the permission to drop that ball, and engage others in their vision. We have the capacity to go much further together than we ever could alone. In turn, perhaps one of the best gifts a mentor, colleague, friend or partner can give is the encouragement to drop that ball, and an open hand to catch it.
Happy Mother’s Day to all of the wonderful mothers I’m fortunate to know.