I’m unearthing how I behaved as both a mother and a nurse leader for 20 years.
The reason? To figure out how these jobs affected me and my life.
Now, you may be a better mother than me.
I repeatedly promised my daughters that I would be home by 5pm, then 5:30, then 6pm. And then I narrowed the promise to 3 days / week, which they begrudgingly agreed to.
Once my 13 year old daughter told me that her friend told her that her mother talked about how much pressure my daughter was under having to look after her 8 year old sister after school each day — having a mother who worked so much. According to my journal, I used my better-self listening skills and prompted my daughter to talk about how she felt about this. We talked it through and at the time, she was protective of me, “I’m hurt that they were talking about us and criticizing you.”
I remained calm in that particular conversation. But boy howdy, NOT in my journal! I ranted and raved with surging feelings of guilt and shame at failing to come home on time, and trying to balance the demands at work— staffing, a professional practice model that needed to be finalized, shared governance meetings, a medication error that happened, an ethics case, etc.
To confess openly, as the years passed, my daughter’s protection of me turned to more honest responses of disappointment and then frustration, and as adolescence fully kicked in, anger. She had plenty of disappointing events to cite in our conflict conversations.
In all these conversations I worked hard to not blame my job or to portray myself as a victim. … Because I loved my job and I loved the work. Everything I did felt monumental, worthy and important —that’s what nursing is. I did talk often of my work to the girls so that they could know what I was involved in and how I viewed life and work. I think that they always knew that work was never more important than them, I think.
But, OMG…. The juggling act was crazy and still is in my head. I could have done a better job on all fronts—as a mother and as a nurse leader.
Will the guilt and shame ever go away? That’s what I’m working on now.
One thing I ran across that is so sweet for those of us caught in any kind of competing demand craziness and trying to master it.
From Ann Lamont, renowned writer, from a TED Talk, April 2017 and IDEAS.TED.COM article September 5, 2017.
Try to be your own coach.
“I would also tell my younger writer self to be with myself the way I’d be with a girlfriend or my younger brother: encouraging. I would be a birth coach or a helper; I would not be a critic. I would have told my younger writer self, ‘Find a couple of people to help you and who you will help. You will do the very scary thing of telling them the truth about their work, and ask them to tell you the truth about yours — with respect and with love.’ Like Dr. Spock always said, with two- and three-year-olds you should be firm but friendly. Now, as a 63-year-old writer, I’m firm but friendly with myself. I take my grandson to school at 8:30. After that, I have about 15 minutes to watch MSNBC, and then I’ll tell myself ‘Look, it’s 9:00. Time to sit down and write.’”
I could have been kinder and more honest with myself.
That’s helping now. I’m becoming my own best friend.