I read a terrific post by Ellevest CEO, Sallie Krawcheck, on LinkedIn recently. In it, she rejects the impossibility of achieving work-life balance as a working mother. She referenced a far-off feeling we, as professional mothers, are working tirelessly towards and expecting to arrive at one day. Only when we cross that metaphorical finish line, can we feel a complete sense of satisfaction, happiness and peace. My sense is that men feel this in different ways, as well.
Yet, as many of us experience, that feeling may never come. There are always things left on our to-do lists. There are school events we miss because of meetings. New business plans that have to squeeze into the time between pick ups and drop offs. There is never enough time. There are always things for us to do – and do better. That pursuit of that finish line is exhausting for us all, especially for women.
I related so much to her piece, which you can read in its entirety here. In it, she shared how she is cutting her self some slack to be a “mediocre” mom. I highly doubt she is mediocre at much in her life. External watchers would likely see a women who is impressive in all aspects. But, that’s not the point. It is about the bar she – and we – hold for ourselves. In ‘lowering the bar’ for herself, she creates the possibility of greater satisfaction in her life:
And so, since I could never find stable footing from which to “balance,” I cut myself some slack. Instead of striving for mythical perfection, I started a family joke that the best the kids can expect from me is that I will be a mediocre mom. At best. On my best day. If I stretch.Sallie Krawcheck
In giving herself permission to be “mediocre,” she gives herself time and space to breathe, rest and explore her personal desires. She is likely an even better mom with fewer hoops to jump through, as well.
I discussed something similar in a 2020 interview on YouTube. The notion of lowering the bar for myself in areas, largely outside of work, seemed unfathomable to me in the past. But, the pandemic ushered in its necessity, if only for survival. As I did less and didn’t worry about doing them perfectly, I created for myself more room for the feelings of success and satisfaction as a mom, woman and professional.
I spoke about it here:
What I am personally trying to find comfort and balance with is in not imposing my 110%, perfectionistic mentality – which has bred success and accomplishment in my life – to every aspect of life.
Where can I be mediocre, like Sallie? Where is mediocre sufficient? Instead of stressing about baking gluten-free, organic snacks to bring to class, maybe I will just buy whatever I can pick up at the store. That’s good enough. Instead of enforcing strict rules about screen time, which I realize is a privileged problem to have anyway, what if I can be more relaxed there? How can we be more chill with how your partner loads the dishwasher, even if they run it at noon is another way to lighten your load? What can you say no to at work with little consequence to anything other than your self-imposed guilt?
For each of us, the places where we may let things slide will be different. Only we, individually, can liberate ourselves from the working-parent-balancing-act impossibility. In my own experience, allowing myself to be 55% in more areas of my life has allowed me to feel more free and have more fun. And, in that, I believe ‘outsiders’ would say that I wasn’t mediocre at all. That, in fact, I am just the opposite: real, alive and more free.