During the holiday season a few years ago, the chief of my division at work gave each of us a bottle of wine as an end-of-the-year thank you gift. Attached to the bottle was a typed note of the things she was grateful for. And at the top of the page was a handwritten, personalized note of gratitude.
To me, she wrote “Thank you for juggling work and motherhood so elegantly.” Elegence?! I was breathtaken. I was only a few months back from maternity leave after the birth of my second child, and that word was the antithesis of how I would have described myself.
Here I was, thinking I was frazzled beyond recognition, burning candles at both ends, wearing ponytails and quite possibly clothing that smelled like spit-up. And the word she chose was “elegantly”?!
I still have that note, and her words were forever etched into my memory. Her recognition made me feel seen. Like my efforts were worth it. It made me want to keep coming back to the office to do good work for her. And it was only one sentence.
We usually celebrate Mother’s Day fairly privately (it falls on a weekend, after all). And, for good reason. We recognize the mothers in our lives for all they do on the home front. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for that! My own personal tradition is to spend Mother’s Day in Rock Creek Park with my family enjoying the calm of nature and watching my boys gleefully throw rocks into the creek from the water’s edge.
But, what if we committed to bringing the celebration to our workplaces, too? What if we took the time – either the few days before or the few days after Mother’s Day – to acknowledge the juggling that hard-working moms are doing in the office, and all the skills they bring to the table?
Here are a few concrete suggestions to honor your fellow mother-colleagues this Mother’s Day:
- Tell a direct report what an amazing job you think she’s doing of being a mother and an employee.
- Thank a colleague who truly understands your parenting struggles for listening deeply to your highs and lows, holding compassion for you, and offering suggestions.
- Thank a colleague who supports your motherhood adventure in the office, whether or not that colleague has children of her own.
- Point out to a fellow-mother colleague what strengths and leadership qualities you’ve watched her grow since she became a parent.
I am always in awe of the passion and commitment the mothers I work with through Mindful Return show for both their families and their careers.
This year, let’s bring Mother’s Day to our places of employment, and celebrate our fellow mothers and the colleagues who support us.
Note: This post was first published on May 6, 2015, on the Mothering in the Middle blog. I am grateful to Cyma Shapiro for granting me the opportunity to be a guest author on her site!
Looking for practical help with your return to work after maternity leave? Take the next session of the Mindful Return E-Course.