The balancing act of being a working mom, can be quite tricky. At Real Mom Daily, we’re sitting down with mamas around the world to capture a glimpse of how they walk their daily tight-rope and still keeping it together…mostly.
Name: Zoe Coyle
Ages of kiddos: two girls aged 10 and 8, and two boys aged 5 years and 3 months
Occupation: Founder and Managing Director of Pilot Light, writer, voice over artist and script editor
Occupation description: Primarily all of my jobs tie together under the banner of communication. I teach empathy, mindfulness, presentational skills, resilience, Growth Mindset, storytelling and self-awareness – everything that contributes to crossing the space between us, enabling connection and clarity of expression.
1 How do you balance WORK & being a mom? Well sisters, I sat down to write this, actually I reclined back supported by pillows and I woke up one hour later with my hands on the keyboard of my computer like a Pompeii person. So I have nothing to offer regarding balance. Is balance actually the goal? Surely once you obtain it, a few moments later the characters, needs and weather have altered so the equation needs rejigging.?
I have 4 children. The baby is 3 months old and I am back at work. My life, although deeply love drenched is like living on board a beautiful yacht which regularly navigates inclemency. I run from one side of the listing vessel to the other clutching the railings, my hair drenched and whipping my face, my high heeled boots sloshing with water. ‘F*^k Everest, try parenting, marriage and working!’ I scream at the sky.
But but but I chose this, I wanted a big family, a big life, so I’m not complaining, but in truth sometimes I feel overwhelmed and transparent with vulnerability, but but but at other times I feel invincible, I feel the embodiment of passion and competency.
We don’t live in a city with any family so regarding nuts and bolts support we have beloved friends and an au pair.
2 How do you balance SELF CARE and being a mom? I don’t have a concise or whole answer for this, but here’s the collage that keeps me mostly sane: I meditate every day. I don’t drink as much alcohol as I’d like too. I move my body when I can to make sure I don’t just live inside my thoughts and feelings, that get nutty and claustrophobic. I read extensively, so I’m filled up with more than myself and my domestic sphere. I gorge on podcasts to elevate the mundane to the nourishing. Ironing whilst listening to Pod Save America or This American Life are sweet, expanding combinations.
I stay deeply connected to my sisterhood and avoid toxic and vapid people. I hang out with my dachshund Solace. I remember that my man is my lover and not some dude with whom I run a small business called Family. I cherish fun and beauty and actively seek them out.
Oh and I also ritualize small moments of perfection, like a cup of hot tea in fine bone china, turning my face into a shaft of afternoon sunlight, or giving over to the wonder that is my lush bed at the end of a day. I stay grateful to keep perspective and ward off dissatisfaction and restlessness. And… I try to be kind. When I’m kind I feel in integrity and that is a profound form of self-care. I also like to wear pretty shoes.
3 How do you balance RELATIONSHIPS/ROMANCE and being a mom? I fail at this regularly so I write in a humble voice but I’ve been with my man for over 21 years and the truth is twofold. Firstly, I married the best person I’ve ever known and secondly, romance is a verb, it takes energy, so I just choose it and do it.
4 Your mom struggles and or issues: Oh where do I start? I’ve read all the books and done many of the courses. Parenting has brought me to my knees but it has also been my greatest teacher. Parenting isn’t for sissies.
The aspect I find most brutalizing is discipline. I revel in the baby phase when it is all love, but when the toddler rightfully emerges so does the need to redirect and educate. The word NO charges onto the scene, from the parent and the child. Cue the opening of Pandora’s box.
It took me time to understand that discipline has to vary for each child. It’s not a one size fits all deal. Their temperament, birth order, age and gender all require different turns of the dial. I found it exhausting and disorienting that as soon as I felt I was getting a handle on discipline the constellation would change.
So to boil it down what I’ve learned over the years is to turn up, emotionally and literally, always just turn up. To be very clear about my expectations and ramifications. To apologize when I get it wrong and to always to follow through.
Someone once told me your job as a parent is to love your children most when they deserve it the least. I think about that when I want to run for the hills. I turn up and love them with all of my heart.
5 Sh%tty Moment: (A particular parenting moment that you wish you had handled differently.) Oh this one still smarts a little. My then 9-year-old daughter was suffering from bouts of anxiety. One evening when she was very stressed she told me she thought I was doing a bad job of parenting. Rather than nodding like the sage I wish I were, I became reactive, childish and made it all about me. After I finished telling her how ungrateful she was, she burst into tears and said ‘but you asked me what was wrong, you always tell me that I can say anything to you, it feels like you set me up’. I ate fistfuls of humble pie. I sometimes need to firmly remind myself that my children are children and I am meant to be the adult. At least when they’re in pain.
6 Your mom tips: A fairly recent realization for me is that I don’t always have to endlessly explain my position to my children. How many times can I engage in a prolonged debate over teeth brushing? I grew up under the fascist weight of old school parenting so I was determined to treat my own cubs with respect at all times. I never wanted to bully them, which was how I felt as a child, bullied and bossed. That’s noble in theory but it can also tip into enmeshment. The liberation I’m now finding is in drawing a clear line. I hear my Littles out but when I’m short on time, low on emotional bandwidth, if the issue is petty or we’ve already visited it repeatedly, I now no longer engage in negotiations and just state that whatever it is, needs to be done. Full stop.
Interestingly, the children seem reassured by this new behavior of mine. I think sometimes they’re looking for the boundary and once they’ve found it they’re defused and can regroup on solid ground. As if they’re reminded, oh yes, you’re the adult, you know how to drive this ship, I’m safe and now let’s eat some toast.
7 Unicorn Moment: (A particular parenting moment for which you keep patting yourself on the back.) Well, I chose their father for them. xoxo
Need she say more?
Zoe Coyle is the Managing Director of Pilot Light. To reach her go to: www.pilotlight.co
Have some working mom tips of your own? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org