Tuesday, October 12, 2010

An Ode to Working Mothers

My church, Foundry UMC, www.foundryumc.org 

I was amazed this past weekend by the women who spoke at the Haiti education event that we organized at my church, Foundry United Methodist. Both women are of Haitian descent and work on Haiti recovery and policy efforts around the clock. Both are married and mothers to young children. Both travel back and forth to Haiti for their work, with one woman in particular traveling at least twice per month. Yet, there they were this past Sunday...dynamic, eloquent, passionate, soulful women who are so committed to Haiti reconstruction that they packed their entire families into their cars and gave up a portion of their incredibly limited free time in order to help educate us. Talk about having a WOW moment.

Something that particularly struck me during their presentations was the amazingly challenging path that committed working women have to walk. Due to a lack of available childcare, both women had their 3 year olds pulling on their skirts as they attempted to present and then answer questions. (I was lucky enough to take care of one of the women's darling 1 year old daughter...but still had to use every trick in the book to keep her amused for an hour.) I just kept thinking that these women probably get an average of 5 or 6 hrs of sleep per night (if they're lucky.) They work long, hard weeks and some how have to balance being 100% available to their families.They must have been exhausted. Yet, they were able to give perfect, intelligent, comprehensive commentaries on one of the most challenging post disaster countries in history as their 3 year old children yanked on their clothes, jumped up and down and tried to get their attention. And they performed the roles of professional, friend and mother all without blinking an eye. My question is, how did they do it?!

Two of my dearest friends, both of whom are intelligent, successful professionals, just recently had their first child. Already, they are having to navigate through how they will balance their new roles. How much time can they afford to take off...how long will they nurse their babies...when will they need to go back to work...when will they get sleep...how will they maintain their friendships and community. And, both friends are incredibly blessed with progressive, caring, engaged husbands who are thrilled to be fathers and to co-raise their children. I, myself, have every confidence that my husband Mark will be an equally wonderful father some day. Yet, it is still the mothers, for the most part, who must play the most challenging roles. It is the mom's who must be all things to all people at all times. Perhaps that is why these women who presented at our Haiti church event were able to navigate through multi-tasking so easily. Their lives inevitably center around this skill.

I hope and pray that I am blessed enough to experience this challenge of multi-tasking through the roles of professional, spouse, daughter, sister, cousin, social justice advocate, church member, neighbor, friend and especially mother one day. In the meantime, I extend some much deserved admiration and appreciation out to all of you working mothers. May we, as a culture, work to better support our mothers (and fathers too!) so that they don't have to choose between their careers, their families and themselves.


  1. Good post!!! Thanks, Elise, for your thoughtful reflections. As a new mother myself, I am always in awe at what so many other woman with children are able to accomplish.

  2. Powerful reflections, Elise, on the many roles women play in our personal and professional lives - and finding a sense of wholeness to anchor us through it all. Thank you for sharing.