Leading Like a Mother


Leading like a MotherThe most exhausting part of being a mom is always being the boss. As a stay-at-home mom of two, I’m always in control: making decisions, planning outings, making appointments, deciding what to cook for dinner, and purchasing goods. And those are just the administrative decisions. Then there are the actual childcare decisions, like should I let her pick out her own clothes? Can she get up from the dinner table yet? Can she play outside? Can she open a new toothbrush even though the one she is using is FINE?

I feel like a boss. But it’s draining to me. 

I am constantly in control. And worst of all, when my husband comes home, he often turns to me for answers to a lot of these questions by saying, “Ask your mom, she’s the boss.” It makes me cringe. I’m tired of being the boss. By 8:30pm I feel like I’ve taken the hardest exam of my life. My brain is shut down. I can’t process any more questions or thoughts. I just sit and stare. My husband has learned to avoid asking me important questions until after a good soak in the bathtub and maybe a glass of wine!

But motherhood has taught me more than just the fact that I need to work on my patience and decisiveness (those are a given!). It’s taught me that leading is not supposed to be easy. True leaders are not born; they are developed. While some people may find leadership roles easier than others, being a great leader takes practice and development.

Leaders are made; they are not born. They are made by hard effort, which is the price all of us must pay to achieve any goal that is worthwhile. — Vince Lombardi

At the end of a long day, I ask myself, “Why was today so hard?” or “What is it about motherhood that is so tiring?” Even after the baby starts sleeping through the night or somehow both girls take simultaneous naps (which is rare), I often feel like I have nothing left to give. After reading Brene Brown’s Daring Greatly, I often go back to her Wholehearted Parenting Manifesto where she discusses how to nurture children with compassion, joy, boundaries, courage and respect. While I agree with her parenting strategies, I better understand why I’m tired. To give my whole heart means I’m giving a part of myself each day. 

Being a parent-leader means leading by example. Because the best way to change behavior is to model it yourself. Parenthood forces you to look inside yourself and desire improvement. 

Growing up, I was never the leader of organizations.

I preferred to be a valuable team member that could offer ideas without making the final decision. I thrive on being part of the decision-making process, rather than being the team leader. I’m really good at blending in, rather than standing out. I feel indecisive about most things, especially when it comes to parenthood. 

So, how do others like me overcome this fear of leading and the emotional fatigue that follows?

According to Brown, there are many things we can do, the most important of which, I believe, is the ability to love ourselves. By loving ourselves, we accept that we are vulnerable and that we will fail. We don’t have to demonstrate leadership every minute of the day. I don’t have to be perfect. I will continue to make mistakes and fail. I will lose my temper. I will model behavior poorly. But it’s not about how I undergo a situation; it’s about how I respond. 



How do you feel about being the leader in your family? Does it bring feelings of anxiety or excitement?