Skip to content

Does every working parent feel like a WIP, or is it just me?

Susan Aust /

3 min read

Reflections on the challenges and rewards of being a working mom by Vermilion Partner, Susan Aust.

As Mother’s Day approaches, I’m flooded with memories of my younger working mom self while I navigate my newer role as a work-in-progress CEO mom. In my 27+ years of being a mom, I never wanted my work to stand in the way of being a good parent, or my motherhood to hurt my profession. I feel in sync these days and strive to be a very human role model for the working mothers on our team.

Instead of work-life balance, I’m on the hunt for work-life harmony, accepting the humble truth that my work and life can be in sync as allies, not enemies, but will likely never be in true balance. You really can’t break yourself into separate pieces; you are one person, indivisible, who just happens to wear many hats. 

Now more than ever, parents need to embrace harmony over balance, especially when so many are trying to do it all, 24/7, often from home among the dogs, diapers, and Zoom calls. When my sons were little, there were no cell phones, laptops, texts, email, or Slack. Most work happened face to face or over the landline. I worked three days a week at Vermilion and I was grateful to have the flexibility so I could be with my boys on my “days off” (if you could call it that). 

Sometimes, those days off meant exclusive time, together, and other times it required keeping the work moving even when I was out of the office. I’ll admit there were a lot of distractions, bribes, threats, stress, apologies, and hugs over the years. I’m not sure what worked and what didn’t, but I tried. My boys saw the value of hard work and commitments to family and office, and the satisfaction and joy that comes from my work as well as being with them. In turn, I saw the boys learn independence, resilience, patience, forgiveness, and trust. 

As work-life worlds continue to collide for so many, it’s become even more challenging to navigate. Here are 3 motherhood mindset shifts that help me find more work-life harmony. I hope they help you:

1) Mother is a verb

  • Take a holistic approach and work on swapping balance for harmony.
  • Share what you do with your children. Let them feel a part of it. (My boys would whine and say I talked to “Client” too much, but when I actually talked to them about what I was working on versus hiding it, they would change their tune and sometimes even come up with great ideas or insightful feedback.)
  • Talk about your kids at work. It shouldn’t be a taboo. Let your coworkers get to know what makes your kids tick—from the buttons they push to the joy they deliver.

2) Be kind to yourself 

  • Each day may require triage. Take the time to align your priorities of work, family, health, and well-being.
  • There will always be the next thing, trust your gut about who needs you, including yourself.
  • Treasure “the doing” a little more and “the getting it done” a little less. 
  • Recognize you will likely feel guilt for some of your choices including working; do your best to kick that guilt to the curb.

3) Be prepared to be humbled

  • Mistakes will be made. Don’t run from them, learn from them.
  • Embrace and laugh at your ever-growing “Remember-When-Mom-Did” Hall of Fame moments.
  • Share your mistakes and wins with friends and family who get it.

My young adult sons now tell me they are glad and proud I’m a working mom. On the days I’m tough on myself, I hold that close and celebrate the children I cherish and the work-in-progress mother I am. Wishing you all a very happy Mother’s Day.

"*" indicates required fields

join our newsletter

Have a project in mind? We can't wait to hear about it.