Can You Do Both?


Is developing your talents and being a dedicated mother mutually exclusive?

Sometimes it feels that way. We have generations of women who have nobly set a standard of sacrifice, putting everything on hold to raise a family. Is this still necessary today? Going out of that mold is often accompanied by guilt and criticism.

Two resources on this topic found their way to me in the past few weeks, leaving me much to think about.

1. Carol Tuttle’s article.
2. Shauna Neiquists speech “What My Mother Taught Me”.

I loved Shauna’s talk. I’m not a feminist, and I’m not advocating for women to pack their bags in pursuit of themselves. It’s not a matter of choosing between motherhood and your own interests. I believe it is possible to do both. It might require “some creativity in working out logistics”, as Shauna mentions, but nonetheless, the desire to maintain your own identity and pursue your individual life calling can actually make you a better mother.

This topic can be extremely emotional for many women. I battle my own residue of resistance regularly, but am ready to be done with it.

Despite my own struggles, the bigger picture of my own experience has shown me that when approached responsibly, pursuing my own calling makes me happier, I feel more confident, I don’t need to play the exhausted mother victim card, and I enjoy my kids a whole lot more. Filling my own well makes it possible to have something to give to my own family.

Being a mom is hard. But it’s a whole lot harder when that’s all you do and focus on.

We teach by example. If I want my own children to thrive with a strong sense of identity and purpose, then I need to lead the way. The scale of that pursuit will look different over time as seasons change, but it’s my inner belief that we should never put everything on hold in the name of sacrifice, or we might wake up and realize we’ve sacrificed much more than we bargained for.

What are your thoughts? Is it possible to do both? And how do you manage it?

bwselfie Brooke Snow is a photographic artist and delights in the pursuit of a meaningful life. Sign up for her FREE e course “Living A Thriving Life” to learn more about how to find true balance in your life. Brooke lives in Northern Utah with her calm husband, adventurous 4 year old son and bouncy baby girl.

8 Responses

  1. I think this is going to be really encouraging to women, Brooke. I wish someone had raised these points of view when I was a new mom. I would have had a lot less guilt and a lot more freedom to bring my best self to the table. I don’t regret for one minute anything I did then, staying home with the kids full time. But I do wish I had felt the freedom to “pursue my own calling with responsibility.” There seemed to be a whole lot of throwing those babies out with the bath water! I think you have brought up a lot of good points for working moms and moms who are contemplating working…there’s much flexibility to be had and we just don’t need to operate in black and white thinking that it has to be “all or nothing” when it comes to mothering and working.

    1. Yes, it doesn’t have to be black and white does it??! Even if “your calling” isn’t professional work, and is simply a matter of taking classes to pursue an interest or practicing the piano or writing novels or quilting, or whatever it may be, when pursued with responsibility you can nurture those kiddos and yourself to boot πŸ™‚ Everyone ends up benefiting, which is a whole lot better than kids who aren’t neglected but a mom who is.

  2. It was providence that you sent out this email on this particular day. I have just had my own awakening about how I lived my life and the choices I made. I would do it differently if I had the chance. I wanted to be a full-time Mom and it seemed impossible to do anythng else as my husband was a pilot in the Navy for 8 years and then went on to fly for the airlines. It seemed infeasible if not impossible in every way to consider doing anything but be a stay-at-home Mom. I had three sons and then a daughter and I have told my daughter from the time she could understand that she is never to sacrifice her dreams and gifts in favor of anything or anyone else. It just simply doesn’t work. I can tell you, Brooke, unequivocally, that you must and you will continue with your career as a photographer and woman’s philosopher and that you will NEVER regret it. I am 61 years old and just figuring out that I deserve to have my own life and that I have multiple gifts and talents to share with the world. Thank you for being a young, fresh voice even for those of us who thought life had passed us by.

    1. Thank you Lisa so much for your passionate response! The wonderful thing is that it is never too late to start now πŸ™‚ Your particular situation in early motherhood brings up a common challenge. It indeed is so much easier to pursue some of your own dreams and interests when you have the support of family–be it emotional support, or help in shouldering the responsibility of being home with the kids. I’m super blessed to have a husband who can do both of those things, but admit that it would be much more challenging if he were away for long periods of time. As I type this my husband is preparing for a week long business trip and I thank my lucky stars that it isn’t a regular thing to have him gone so long or often. One line that stuck out to me in Shauna’s talk was that this might require us to “be creative in working out the logistics”. Those logistics are often simple (yet complex!!) issues such as who is going to pick kids up from school, or who does the grocery shopping, or who fixes the meals, or who watches the kids to allow for the time and ability of pursuit. Be it a husband, or grand parent, or neighbor, or hired nanny or best friend that you trade time with, there are more options than we generally think there are in order to make this happen. Thus the need to “get creative” πŸ™‚

      Thank you for adding your own voice and experience to the discussion! I’m thrilled that you are ready to share your gifts and talents with the world! Onward, my friend!

  3. This message was like a breath of fresh air for me today! Thank you so much πŸ™‚ This sentence, “Being a mom is hard. But it’s a whole lot harder when that’s all you do and focus on” really hit home. I love your wise words because I don’t think we hear this message enough.

    1. Amen Bethany! I think it’s a message that we need to hear a whole lot more often, because if you’re like me, we need regular encouragement to see past the limitations and be reminded of the truth that our own pursuits are not selfish, but gloriously enhancing to the life experience of our family when done responsibly.

  4. Yes! This is just what I needed to hear! I have been trying so hard this year to find balance in my life between being a mom/wife and being ME. It is so nice to think of it as a both/and thing rather than either/or.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts on it!

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