Motherhood as the Ultimate Motivator
By Kathryn Parrish
Last December, I was returning to work after spending eight weeks at home with my newborn daughter. Part of me felt ready. I knew settling into a more established routine would be good for our whole family. And, after many mornings spent sipping on lukewarm coffee that had been microwaved many times over, I daydreamed about the prospect of being able to drink a hot cup in relative peace and quiet.
Another, much larger part of me felt nervous. I had been promoted from senior account executive to account director, and a flurry of new clients, tasks and deadlines awaited me at the office. Meanwhile, I was still in “survival mode” and averaging only a couple hours of broken sleep each night, typically on my daughter’s bedroom floor.
Public relations and public affairs work can be demanding and unpredictable, and as the end of my maternity leave drew near, a long list of questions ran through my head: Will I be able to juggle it all? Am I doing the right thing? How can I ensure nothing falls through the cracks? Where does one pump milk in the State Capitol? How long can a human survive on so few hours of sleep?
I worried that the all-encompassing responsibilities of motherhood would make my job more difficult, and in some ways, they have. Being a working mom isn’t easy—my to-do list never seems to shrink, and the weekends are never long enough. The other day I asked my husband if he ever feels like all we do is wash dishes and fold laundry, and I wasn’t joking!
What I didn’t foresee, though, is the extraordinary drive and motivation my daughter would give me to power through the challenges and continue pursuing a successful career. For most of us, jobs are first and foremost a means to provide for ourselves and our families. But, as a mother, my career as a public relations professional has also become an opportunity to serve as a role model for my daughter, especially as she gets older.
I want to teach her the importance of hard work. I want her to feel the satisfaction of working towards a goal and achieving it. I want her to overcome challenges. I want to show her that being a mother and having a successful, fulfilling career aren’t mutually exclusive.
These days, the long list of questions running through my head is more focused on what I can and should do to ensure my daughter grows up to be a caring, independent, thoughtful individual. And I’m thankful to have a career that provides me with firsthand experiences to help answer at least some of the questions.