A Leadership Lesson From Stay-at-Home Moms

In Debora Spar’s recent Newsweek article “Why Women Should Stop Trying to Be Perfect”, she asserts, “No woman can have it all, and by using all as the standard of success, we are only condemning ourselves and our daughters to failure.” Her solution? “Resist the myth of solitary perfection.” In other words, cooperate with others and embrace our human limitations.


When I left my former career to return to school and launch Thrive, I found myself with a completely new schedule. Instead of long days at the office, I had long days at home. I had school assignments in addition to my work assignments. I was now the after-school caregiver for my kids (paying for childcare is not feasible for someone going to school and starting a business) and needed to be available for late afternoon meetings and evening classes. And then my husband began a job with significant domestic and international travel.


Because of my new home-based workdays I began interacting more with some of the moms in my neighborhood who had put their careers on hold to focus on their families. They recognized the conflicting demands on my time—that was daily life for them too—and offered to do “anything” I needed.


At first I resisted aid. I wanted to do it all. Alone. Plus, wouldn’t I be taking advantage of these kind women? But as I accepted invitations for morning coffee (in a kitchen, not a Starbucks), carpooled to yoga and exchanged portions of home-cooked meals, I developed relationships that made it easier to accept their offers of assistance. Now, I consider these neighbors my support system. I also consider them some of my closest friends.


When a Thrive event overlaps with my husband’s travel for work and my son’s arrival from school, my friends help. And because of my flexible schedule, I can give them similar support. This opportunity to rely on each other is empowering. It gives us each the ability to accomplish more than we could on our own. We are resisting the myth of solitary perfection. And it feels good.

Since I changed my career, I have been able to offer help to my neighborhood friends as they have made their own significant changes. One returned to work, one returned to school, and one started her own business. Not so bad for imperfection.

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11 years ago

Very true, it’s so natural to feel guilty for receiving help and to feel like “I must be independent” and handle my problems on my own. It is humbling to be willing to receive help, and feels rewarding to be able to help others. “Being successful” is vague and I often have to accept that I am successful where I am now. Nice article.

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