How to Address #MomGuilt
Andrea Maxim, ND
What is one thing that typically prevents us from enjoying our business? From acknowledging the small and big successes we have in practice? What is something that we all, at least at one point in our lives as parents, worry about that can distract us from achieving our goals in our business?
More than any other post I have seen on social media, or in blogs, or on videos, the topic that captures the most attention by viewers are posts by women struggling with mom-guilt. Community movements and Facebook groups that are specifically designed to attract people that need extra support balancing their business and work life have taken up the topic.
So here’s the thing… No offense to the men, because I know that fatherhood has drastically changed over the past decade—I would not be nearly as successful in my business if my husband wasn’t the type of father he is—but we women are still trying to break through old stereotypes. As soon as that baby is born, history dictates that mom stays home for 12 months to breastfeed, grow and puree all of baby’s food, and then, maybe, it’s acceptable to go back to work.
All of the ND moms out there know that the idea of 12 months away from a developing practice is stress-provoking. I couldn’t even dream of taking more than 5 weeks away from my business! Maybe that’s the control freak in me, but I also know that without any sort of financial security in this business, especially if you’re just starting out, maternity leave is a huge luxury that we as entrepreneurs just don’t have.
The women that are paving the way for future naturopathic physicians are truly amazing. I wonder, though, what they have had to sacrifice to achieve success? What judgments did they have to overcome from patients, friends and family members to spend less time at home and more time at the office?
The real question then is: Do we need to exchange being a good mom for professional success?
Living as the Whole You
I’d now like to share a passage from Shonda Rhimes, the creator of Grey’s Anatomy, Private Practice and Scandal. This is an excerpt from a commencement speech she gave at Dartmouth College a few years ago. What inspired me the most about it is the way she clearly defies the lie that people have been feeding us, that Work-Life Balance is possible:
Shonda, how do you do it all?
As you try to figure out the impossible task of juggling work and family and you hear over and over and over again that you just need a lot of help or you just need to be organized or you just need to try just a little bit harder … as a very successful woman, a single mother of three, who constantly gets asked the question “How do you do it all?” For once I am going to answer that question with 100 percent honesty here for you now.
Shonda, how do you do it all?
The answer is this: I don’t.
Whenever you see me somewhere succeeding in one area of my life, that almost certainly means I am failing in another area of my life.
If I am killing it on a Scandal script for work, I am probably missing bath and story time at home. If I am at home sewing my kids’ Halloween costumes, I’m probably blowing off a rewrite I was supposed to turn in. If I am accepting a prestigious award, I am missing my baby’s first swim lesson. If I am at my daughter’s debut in her school musical, I am missing Sandra Oh’s last scene ever being filmed at Grey’s Anatomy. If I am succeeding at one, I am inevitably failing at the other. That is the tradeoff. That is the Faustian bargain one makes with the devil that comes with being a powerful working woman who is also a powerful mother. You never feel a hundred percent OK; you never get your sea legs; you are always a little nauseous. Something is always lost.
Something is always missing.
And yet. I want my daughters to see me and know me as a woman who works. I want that example set for them.
I get to run Shondaland, because I get to write all day, because I get to spend my days making things up, that woman is a better person—and a better mother. Because that woman is happy. That woman is fulfilled. That woman is whole. I wouldn’t want them to know the me who didn’t get to do this all day long. I wouldn’t want them to know the me who wasn’t doing.
Give Yourself to Your Endeavors, but Don’t Burn Out
Perhaps the most important thing that I did was make sure that when I’m at work, I work. I am completely focused and get my work done. I also never aspire to have a fully booked practice. I would quickly burn out if I came to work, saw back-to-back patients and didn’t have any time to chart, manage the clinic, answer e-mails or create new marketing strategies.
I am never afraid to ask for time away from my family. If I need to get away or stay late to get work done, then I ask my family for extra work time and almost always get it. The key is to ask.
Know What You Need to be Fully You
As women, we are often unwilling to talk to our partners about our true desires, the things we want to do with our lives in addition to being great moms. We are afraid to ask for help because, as women, we sometimes still believe that it’s our duty to take care of everyone before ourselves.
I don’t need to apologize for wanting to get what I want out of my life. I am a mother, a wife and a naturopathic physician, and proud to be all.
Build a business that allows you more time at home, and do not stop building that business. Understand the amount of work and effort it takes to build a hugely profitable practice, and consider that maybe taking home a modest income every year, if it allows you to sleep 8-9 hours each night, take weekends off and enjoy being a health practitioner and a parent, is just fine.
Just don’t stop being YOU and, instead of carrying guilt with you, carry inspiration to show everyone what is possible when you choose to live in a way that reflects all of your dreams!
Andrea Maxim, ND graduated from the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine. She created The Maxim Movement – a movement that helps like-minded people move towards MAXIMizing their digestion, MAXIMizing their hormones, MAXIMizing their weight loss and, of course, MAXIMizing their health. To support her vision, Dr Andrea has completed her first book, MAXIMized Health: The New, Intelligent System for Optimal Digestion and Hormones, available for purchase on her website: www.TheMaximMovement.com.