Luca on a visit to my office.
When I was still in graduate school doing an internship, the Director of the department where I was working was an admirable woman. She was recognized for being capable, skilled, and on top of things. She was also known for having moved up the ladder rather quickly and efficiently.
I sat down with her one day to discuss the projects I was heading under her supervision and I asked her point blank what had she done to be so successful. After all, I looked up to her and she was a good role model. Her answer stunned me: “Well, as soon as my children left the house to go to college I became a widow so I dedicated myself to work.” At the time, the young and unmarried version of myself was just impressed with her ability to turn something negative into something positive. But today I often think about her and wonder… can we moms be simultaneously outstanding in our roles as professionals, mothers and wives?
As a self-labeled feminist my unwavering answer is “yes!,” yet I struggle with this sometimes. For example, next Tuesday my company’s CEO is hosting an important evening event. A flexible and kind man, my boss will understand if I don’t attend because that’s one of the family weeknights that Alain and I cherish with the boys. We usually get home, have dinner, and then head off to the park, Sea World, the movies. Yes, he’ll understand if I don’t attend. But, at the same time, my absence is not what is best for our company. I know that for sure. I know, I know, I will then rethink this and realize that spending the night with the family actually increases my overall life satisfaction which then translates into higher performance at work… but I still feel like I should go!
It’s a day to day question. Where do I give or take? Do I show up late to work so I can attend the pre-school Mardi Gras parade? How will Luca feel when his mom is not there with the other moms to watch him parade around with the mask that he made in class? How will my company be impacted if I go to the parade and do not join the call that our team will have with our client?
I guess this brings me to the definition of success. Like my kind boss, who I mentioned earlier, says to thousands of young people every year, “It is not about perfection. It's about excellence. About doing your best.” Now THAT I am doing.