A couple weeks ago I had a conversation with my career coach about an identity crisis I am having. In writing these posts and managing my social media pages, I cannot decide if my ‘voice’ is that of a wife and mother or of a nonprofit leader (and an all-around boss!). I have read and observed various thought leaders and have realized that everyone who does it right has that one thing that they are known for. So how do I choose between being a mother and being a leader?
As a wife and mother, I am a leader. Alongside my husband, I am responsible for making sure the daily business of our family is taken care of. I manage the schedule, the menu and (try) to set an example of a good human being for my kids. Communication skills are tested daily and vital to the success of our organization. We have to continually learn new ways to work together while thriving in our individual goals.
I bring my “mothering” to my leadership. I am protective of my coworkers, I am caring and empathic. I know from past experience that this does not work in all work environments, but it works in my current one. I give hugs, listening ears and side eyes and I get the same in return. Some days we don’t get along as well as we should, but we are always each other’s biggest cheerleaders.
I have learned my best leadership lessons from my kids. My oldest is persistent. When he first started daycare, at 8 months old, they had to put up a real gate between the early infant and the older infant rooms, because he kept bulldozing under the changing station that separated the two. He wanted in that 1-year-old room and no matter what was in his way, he got into it. It is because of him that I understand how important it is to be relentless in understanding and achieving my goals.
Dad’s never have to do this ish. They never have to ask “Am I a dad or am I the CEO of this company?” They get to be both all the time. I am unsure where the thought came from that if I am defined by being a wife/mother that I somehow am less of a leader. Or that if I decide being a leader is my primary focus, I am a bad wife and mother. Possibly the patriarchal society we live in but that’s another conversation for another day. I am a capable leader and an exceptional wife and mother.
By the end of our conversation, I decided that I can share my wife/mother successes in the same breath I talk about challenges of being an introverted leader. At the end of the day, convincing a 3-year-old to take a nap requires the same skill as persuading a very dedicated coworker to make some time for self-care.
I don’t have to choose between being a wife, mother or leader. There will be times when one role may need to trump another, but I am defined by all of them. I am a wife and a mother and a leader and each of those voices make me who I am.
Yolanda Jenkins is a wife, mother of 2, and an introverted leader. She can sometimes be found sharing the good, the bad and the ugly on IG @thislibralife.