By Tandice Tinney
Vice President of Service Operations, Working Mom
ACI Specialty Benefits
I would classify myself as a successful woman. I graduated college, went to graduate school, and am very successful in terms of what I have accomplished in my life. But even so, I am still content not to compete with others or with myself.
The biggest challenge I face as a working mom is making time for myself. My kids are 13 and 14 and you would think I would have more time now than when they were younger, but it is quite the opposite. I don’t have that guilt about working now because since I work for a very work/life friendly company; I drop them off at school, and am home when they get home from school. But that’s when the real marathon begins.
Both of my children are very busy after school with sports and other extracurricular activities so most days I get off of work and go to that second job. I am chauffer, short order cook, tutor, maid, mediator, cheerleader, coach, personal shopper, you name it! We moms do it all. By the time bedtime rolls around, I am exhausted.
But my two children are the greatest gifts in my life. They are my life. The sacrifices I make in career now will pay off when I am old and grey. I will know that I made a difference in this world. I am certainly not impartial on the subject, but I have raised two wonderful children who are going to enrich our society. I did that! The choices I’ve made are paying off. In my life, the sacrifice is worth it.
As far as Sheryl Sandberg and her statements about women and success, I have mixed feelings. I am not a Type A personality. To be honest, I am just not that ambitious. I have a lovely home, a great job, and two wonderful children.
Beauty – and success – lie in the eyes of the beholder. Do I view myself as a success? Certainly! Do I view women like Sheryl Sandberg as a success? Of course. Do I think she is more successful and has a happier life than me? Not at all.
I don’t believe that Sandberg’s generalized value system works for everyone. In my opinion, to espouse that all women should reach for career-oriented greatness is somewhat presumptive.
The real secret to happiness? It really is maintaining a work/life balance. I love to work and I love to play. Being a single mom, the kids do have time away from me with their father. Of course, I do work extra hours when they are with their father, but I also schedule time to do things that I like to do. Spending time with my close girlfriends without kids around is precious. We get to vent and bond and understand that we all share the same challenges and we don’t feel alone in our sacrifices.
Here are some other lessons that I would like to pass on to other working women:
- Work hard, but not too hard. Give yourself permission to do nothing. I very much enjoy my alone time and don’t need to fill it to be happy. I am not a Type A personality. An admitted Food TV junkie, I will allow myself to watch for hours if I like! Some people would view this as lazy, but I consider it doing something necessary to rest, recuperate, and come back to work or family refreshed and ready to tackle life’s challenges.
- Schedule something fun to look forward to. I love to travel, so once a year I do a “girls’ trip” and spend at least five nights away from home. Having that goal, that light at the end of the tunnel, gives me something to look forward to.
- Be aware of what you need in a relationship. I am single and, I might add, loving it. Some women might not love it, but it’s okay not to have a man in your life. I have been divorced for years now. I do not have the desire to date anyone, at least not at the moment. Being in a relationship takes compromise and I’m not sure I am ready for that yet. I like calling the shots, being in charge and doing whatever I want to do, whenever I want to do it. I am a little selfish that way.
- Be true to yourself and your own standards of excellence. If you want a stellar career, go for it. If you want to raise children, do that. If you want both – why not? Don’t try and compete with the Sheryls. Be comfortable in your own skin. Be okay with not shattering the glass ceiling. We have plenty of Sheryl Sandbergs out there who desire climbing to the top. Define what true happiness means for you.
In other words – leaning in is okay. Leaning out is also okay.
These things will probably change when my kids are up and out. Time will tell. But for now, the kids, my work, and I are enough. My friends and family give me all the support and encouragement I need to be successful. That is important to me. They know me well enough to know not to push me to higher achievement! All of this contributes to my work/life balance, my peace, and my serenity. Not to mention being one darn good mom!