Nope, not a better mother than your neighbor, than your friend, or than the president of your local PTA…but what makes you the best mother you can be? Going even further than that… What makes you successful as a person? As a human being?
John C. Maxwell defines “success” as:
“knowing your purpose in life,
growing to reach your maximum potential, and
sowing seeds that benefit others”.
Very recently I was approached by www.inspiringwomeninsurgery.com to provide some words of advice or encouragement, and while my 4 year old was brushing his teeth at night I thought about work/life “balance”, envisioned a set of scales, and came up with this.
Why am I a #bettermother because I am a surgeon? Because I know my purpose in life, I am growing and I am sowing seeds. I know that this mother may be sad that I miss my son’s soccer practices, but I also know there are lots of other mothers out there that are glad I did… because I was able to help their children in their time of need. And although my children may miss me at times, I know they also gain valuable lessons from my career – independence and selflessness chief among them. My children always know that I love them, and they are important to me… whether I am sitting at their bedside, or at the bedside of one of my patients.
And no, you don’t have to be a trauma surgeon or work outside the home to be successful, or a #bettermother. Again, look at the definition. Nowhere in that definition does it mention spending every moment of every waking day with your child(ren). It doesn’t mention making your child’s first birthday cake by hand, or becoming Vice President of a company. Nor does it mention “leaning in” to the point that you are about to fall over.
YOU are at the center of your success, and you have to give back to yourself in order to be in a position to give to others – whether that is your spouse or your children or your community.
An example for you. The wife of one of my partners volunteers with her daughters’ Girl Scout troop. This makes her a #bettermother – not because she spends time in an activity that involves her own children, but because she gives of her time to an activity that gives many children joy when other mothers can’t. Another friend is a #bettermother because she is a Crossfit addict… She is teaching her daughter that strong is beautiful, and physical health helps build emotional health.
Taking time in activities, away from your family, work related or not, that develop your sense of self, fulfill your purpose in life, and replenish your soul is not selfish. In fact, it is essential to being a #bettermother and a successful human being.
So what makes you a #bettermother? Is it the 30 minutes you spent exercising this morning? Or is it the 2 hours over the weekend you took to train for a marathon? Is it the overnight business trip in another city that allowed you to present a project that will better your company? Is it the hours you spend volunteering at your child’s school because other mothers can’t? Is it that extra time you took at the hospital treating a patient who needed you? Is it the time you spend organizing a book club giving women the opportunity to fellowship with other women, building their support system?
Success doesn’t require a title, or a degree, or a paycheck. It requires YOU being the best YOU possible.
So take that time to develop yourself, replenish yourself, fulfill your purpose.
Enjoy it. Own it. And snap a photo of yourself doing it. To keep as a reminder – when you are coming home late, or have 18 loads of laundry piled up, or serve Cheerios for dinner for the umpteenth time that week, or in any way feeling like you are “failing”…that you are, indeed, not.
I am a #bettermother, and so are you.