“I can bring home the bacon, fry it up in a pan. And never let you forget you’re a man! Cause I’m a woman…” This is the song from a classic 1980’s commercial for the perfume Enjoli. It came roaring back to my brain as I was frantically working on the brunch menu for my daughter’s birthday. I was so worried that the bacon burned in the pan and, as a result, my whole house smelled like fried pig.
Not the scent I was going for.
Then, another thought hit me. Why are working moms so intent on doing it all? Why am I spending a day off WORKING? Like, really, really working hard and sweating and stuff?!
Is my 3-year-old daughter going to know I cleaned the baseboards? Is she going to care that I made breakfast strata from scratch? Is she going to go to school and tell her friends that her mommy is AWESOME at painstakingly arranging flowers? I think not.
My hypothesis—it is pure guilt driving us to overachieve on the home front when you are a working mom (and some dads, too, but this post is about the ladies today).
Guilt because my kid goes to after-school-care instead of home when class is over. Guilt because I didn’t race to sign up to be the classroom mom. Guilt because my daughter doesn’t get “lunch art,” but survives on chicken nuggets and fruit slapped in a reusable container.
Somehow, though, I’ve discovered this guilt can actually be really powerfully great. It causes me to be even more focused on the HR job so I can demonstrate to my daughter you CAN do whatever you want to do. That doesn’t mean you can do it ALL. No. It means you pick and choose and get really super at prioritizing and meaningful multitasking.
I also think guilt makes me a better leader. I’m not going to ask my team to do anything I wouldn’t do myself. I demonstrate to them that while I check out from 5-8pm to be with my family, I can still get stuff done and done well. I am highly accountable to my team, my family and myself.
After opening every door in my house and turning on every fan, I cooked another batch of bacon. This time there was no smoke and it “made” the dish. I’ve learned working moms don’t give up easily; we have immense patience and we can be darn creative.
Seems like traits we’d all want in our leadership—regardless of if we can fry bacon right the first time!