Can You Have A Meaningful Career And Still Be A Great Mother?

BY: - 18 May '12 | Parenting

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We recently celebrated another Mother’s Day, and we showered the mother figures in our lives with our appreciation for everything that they’ve done for us. From moms, grandmas, aunts, big mamas, and all the wonderful ladies in between, we recognized the sacrifices they gave in order to make us the people we are today. For some women, being a mother comes natural. It’s all they wanted to do in life and they’re amazing at it. For other ladies, making the decision to share your body with another human being for 9 months, and then being responsible for them for at least the next 18 years is more than they’d like to bargain for. So is it possible to have a meaningful career and still be a great mother?

Black Enterprise interviewed several professional women about child bearing, life balance and family planning choices. 33-year-old Summer Alexander became a mom at 17, and went from high school drop out to college graduate and mom-preneur.

Being home was a breath of fresh air because I’m passionate about my children. I kept my mind active by being in school, and the energy of my household changed from one of the same day-to-day routine to a much more peaceful environment. My children were and still are happy to have me at home. Also by the time I when back to school and was starting my business, I was married and had just recently given birth to our son who has never attended daycare.

35-year-old Deanna Kimberly Burell is enjoying life as a single entrepreneur and author, but has felt the pressure to have a child since her “clock is ticking.” Deanna is standing by her decision to wait until the timing is right.

I would say that I made a conscious decision that I did not want to enter into motherhood as a single mother. I have the utmost respect for all single mothers because being the primarily caregiver is a lot of work. Personally, I decided that raising a child in a one-parent household is not the kind of responsibility that I can handle. I want to raise my child like I was raised: with two loving parents in the household. Until I find a man that I want to marry and have a child with, I decided instead to focus on succeeding at my career.

28-year-old divorced mom of three, Jennifer K. Davis, handles most of her business while her children are at school, but as many moms know, sometimes your kids’ needs intertwine with mommy’s work time.

Whenever I had business meetings or phone calls, I would conduct them while my kids were at school, but if business was on the weekend, I brought my children along. I’d tell everyone, up front, that I’m a single mother trying to make this happen, so from time to time I might bring my child with me or you might hear a scream for “˜Mommy’ in the background. Most of the people I came in contact with were very supportive, very empathetic and understood and loved my passion.

51-year-old entrepreneur Jill Williams is no stranger to sacrifice. In order to provide for her daughter, sometimes she had to miss out on events in order to earn extra money.

I think my biggest challenge of balancing my daughter’s needs while pursuing my career was missing out on events that were important to her. She was a cheerleader in high school, and I missed many of her games.You can’t imagine the guilt I felt, but I had to keep a roof over our heads.

So can you have it all? It depends on your situation. What’s your situation like? Are you a SAHM, a woman who has a 9-5 and also holds the full time position as mom, or are you waiting to build your family after your career goals are met?


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  • Christina Garrett

    Hi Briana!! I personally think its very vital to the health of your family that you do both….Balance is possible, and is even necessary to the spirit of the mother! She must feel like she is progressing, moving forward and using her gifts in some capacity that is fulfilling, lest her children have the responsibility of her happiness on their shoulders. One day the babies will leave….and mom will have a mid-life crisis not knowing what she should do now that she cannot dote all of her time on her kids. Balance is important….raising children is a phase, but your gifts, talents and purpose are a lifetime goal.

  • Andrea H.

    I’m a full time mom, full time wife and work a full time job and it is exhausting, to say the least. My daughter is still very young, but I want her to see that you don’t have to sacrifice any one of those things for the other. I wouldn’t trade my life for anything in the world!

  • Wanda M.

    I think that you can be a successful mother, wife, and working woman; however you have to be organized, have a great support system, and decide what things are most important to you from a home and work perspective. Quantity doesn’t define quality. In my mind, make sure that the time you spend with your family is truly quality time. I have always worked and have never regretted being a working mom. I have a great spouse who I can share responsibilities with.

  • Keeley @ My Life on a Plate

    My husband and I married when we were both 24 and now we’ll be 32 when our first child arrives in August. We value marriage, but we waited to buy a home, finish our education, and get our careers and marriage established before having children. We both work full-time and I’ll be taking off five months to stay at home with our son before returning to work full-time. We both have long commutes and often work long hours, but we have support from our extended family for childcare and emergencies. We both agreed that we wanted to be parents, but it has been a huge sacrifice to plan for this child. I know waiting until we were in our 30s was the right choice for us. I’m concerned about balancing it all, but I know I have support.

  • Catherine Vos

    Sometimes, your kids need you and only you. I gave up my career to be with my 3 kids, one of whom was exceptionally clingy and would have been traumatised to have been left with anyone else. I have no regrets! I have put my kids first when they needed me the most. I have memories that no one can take away and no guilt. I also have plenty of time in the future to focus on me. Life is a series of seasons and I am happy I surrendered to that. :)

  • Summer Alexander

    Hi Briana, Thank you so much for sharing the story. I love the conversation going on over here! There is definitely no “one size fits all” when it comes to motherhood and career and I believe as long as we as women don’t feel like we are giving up anything, that’s all that matters.