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Last week I shared some reasons why working makes me a better Mother.  That coin has two sides, so this week I’m going to share the other perspective.  I’m not saying motherhood will get you promoted,  (see my previous rant about Equal Pay Day for more on that topic) but I do believe that the transformation of motherhood can help you succeed in all areas of your life.  Here are just a few:

  1. I can relate better to my co-workers.  Depending on where you work, a majority of your colleagues are probably parents themselves.  Once you have kids you are better able to spot the bleary-eyed glaze that follows a night spent in a steamed bathroom fighting off the croup.  Empathy makes for better relationships.
  2. Improved patience.  Parenting is the ultimate test of patience.  Patience is a lot like a muscle.  If you don’t stretch it regularly it won’t be able to perform at its best.  Kids are good at pushing those buttons.  Embrace it
  3. Managing multiple priorities.  The frequent crises of motherhood teach triage techniques that can be used to sort through seemingly impossible crises at work.  Figure out lost causes and dump them, then focus on using your limited resources in the most effective manner as possible to reduce further casualties.
  4. Childbirth is empowering.   Birthmothers often walk away from the birth experience with tremendous pride and renewed appreciation for their endurance and will power.  It is a true gift to create a new life, and realize you are more powerful/strong/resilient than you ever thought you were in the process.
  5. Suck it up and deal, baby.  Kids don’t care if you have a migraine, a yeast infection, or walking pneumonia.  Above all else, you have got to make sure they are OK, or find another reasonable adult to do that for you.  I am much less of a pansy about my little nuisance health issues now than I ever was, and that is probably because I’ve actually been forced to test what happens when you pretend you’re not sick.  (Here’s a hint:  most of the time, you get over it.)
    Important note about #6:  This does not apply to men.  Upon first sniffle, men revert into little boys who need their Mommy – and by the way, that’s you, too.
  6. Appreciation for praise.  Kids love it when you praise them, and their outward responses encourage adults to do it more.  For some reason, adults find it awkward to praise other adults. Parenting reminds us that adults need it, too.  Since I’ve had kids I tell people when I am proud of what they did, and try to recognize people as much as possible.



If you’re feeling guilty as a working mom, stop it right now.  If working makes you more happy, satisfied, sane, reasonable – you’re not alone.  Your family will thank you later.

10 – The 15 minute commute of alone time in the car makes a whole lot of baggage fade away.  Both ways!
9 – Rewards for good work are tangible and regular.  We all need reassurance that we are doing good work, and it just doesn’t happen all that often at home.
8 – Work is, for the most part, a fair and predictable game.  Do work = get paid.  Motherhood can be a thankless job, where extra effort put in today may not make a tangible difference for years, and by that time you’ll probably be getting ready to retire anyway.
7 – People at work are rational.  (Well, for the most part…)  Co-workers don’t have any pre-conceived ideas about who you are or any special interest in what you should become.
6 – At home most everything is shared – space, food, stuff, time, money.  At work, what’s mine is mine.  I don’t have to choose between putting everyone else first or  feeling guilty about taking care of myself.
5 – Adult interaction free of children means great potential for following a single thought through to its natural ending.  Children have not yet learned that every single thought they have does not need to be spoken, so silence can be a rare treasure at home.
4 – Sometimes hearing about other people’s problems makes me appreciate my own just a little bit more.
3 – Absence makes the heart grow fonder.  A daily break from family allows everyone to go off and experience the world in his or her own way.  When we come back together and share what we learned, it is a bonding experience and we are all enriched by it.
2 – Focusing on work means putting family and home issues on hold for a few hours.  This is a great release that allows me to come back with fresh eyes and more patience than before.
1 – Full-time motherhood without a release is stressful.  Professional therapy to mitigate the damage costs $80 an hour.  When I go to work, they pay me.  This one is a no-brainer.  🙂

A happy Mom is a good Mom.  At one time or another, working Moms usually feel guilty about leaving their family responsibilities to go to work.  It’s time to appreciate the other side – what benefits (besides income!) does your working bring to your family? 


Some years ago I came across this book edited by Cathi Hanauer, comprised of a series of essays written by 26 different women.  I was intrigued by the title, partly because I felt (and still feel at times) that I have to constantly struggle to keep my own Inner B*tch in check.  Some days I do a much better job than others.

The best thing about reading the book was the honesty of the women writers.  They said things I had been feeling inside (and fighting to keep in) for years.  It made me feel instantly validated.  Women in my mom’s generation rarely talked about their frustrations, anger, and stress out loud, they mostly silently suffered their place in life.  This book changed all that for me.  I was relieved to find out that I wasn’t the only one walking around like a ticking time bomb, waiting for some small thing to tick me off and send me to the point of no return.   

As I’ve grown into motherhood I have realized how important it is to air my stress and frustration out in the open, which is one of the reasons why I love writing this blog.  I have come to terms with the fact that the stresses of working and parenting often leave me teetering on the edge of irritability.  I have always known and admitted I am not perfect; the difference is that I no longer make apologies for my shortcomings.  Instead, I strive to be proactive, nourishing myself and becoming my own best friend and staunchest advocate.

When I realize I have brought the dark cloud of irritability over my house I treat it like the “check engine” light on my dashboard.  It is a sign that something isn’t quite right, and that I am headed for much bigger issues if I don’t stop and take a good look at what is going wrong.

Read the book review, then do yourself a favor and get the book.  If nothing else, prominent display of that book on your shelf will let other people in your house know exactly where you stand.  If you’ve ever felt like the B*tch in your own house, I invite you to join me in taking ownership of how you feel and let some of it out in the comments below. 


“We’re closing the daycare.”

If you’ve ever spent the time and energy needed to research, visit, register, and transition into a new daycare, you know what a punch in the gut this kind of news brings.

And so it was for my family one day last week.  I had arrived at daycare after work as usual: over-stimulated from a long and productive day.  Unsuspecting, I turned toward the door with the kids and started thinking about what to make for dinner when they pulled me aside.   “Can you sit down here for a minute?” the nice ladies who’ve become almost family to us asked.  Historically, these little tête-à-tête conferences have been about discipline or problem behaviors, so my mind immediately prepared for the impact of hearing how my kid was not taking turns/name-calling/misbehaving on the school bus. 

Not today.  Everything else suddenly ground to a halt that night while I wracked my brain and pored over my address book.  After an hour of frantic calls I finally found a few leads that made it possible for my blood pressure to come back down to normal range.

Without the support of before and after school daycare, my whole carefully crafted schedule would crumble like a house of cards.  It was then that I realized how it easy it is to take childcare for granted.

Now that a week has gone by I am no longer gripped by this crisis, but it is far from over as we look for a new solution.

Listen up, all you Mommies. I know you. You take care of everybody but yourself because you know from experience that they need your attention more than you do, right? Wrong. If you don’t take care of yourself, your well-thought out system will eventually fail. If you’re lucky your fail will be stress taking you out with an illness for a week. If you’re not lucky…well, let’s not go there.

As a friend reminded me recently, classic airline safety schpiels advise people travelling with children to put a deployed oxygen mask on themselves first. Think about that for a minute. Now go make yourself happy. Do one small thing solely for the purpose of pleasing you. If it makes you feel better, think of it as taking one more thing off their list.


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Michelle St. Onge

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