This year is the year of the Power Mom, the article in the February 4 Washington post declared. I sent it to my adult daughter. She replied, “We’ve had a Power Mom since 1989.” High Five, honey!”
Finally there is a category where I fit. I didn’t fit the suburban mom, the soccer mom, the helicopter mom, the dragon mom, the Virginia Slims mom (for those of you who remember cigarette TV commercials) or the working mom. All those were too tame.
Not that I was looking for wild. What I was looking for was a name that actually described how my mothering shaped my work and my work shapped my mothering. That is a power dynamic because one strengthens the other. And, in that synergy I continually learned how to be a leader. Here are three important leadership lessons from being a Power Mom.
First, Power Moms must be clear. Always. Every day I set priorities among competing good values in my life. Those priorities were integrated into my life. Self care was integrated into my priority to make lunches and get my kids on the bus. Those personal priorities were integrated into the consistency that the people of the parish looked to me to provide as a spiritual leader. I did not set appointments with parishioners and then change them without a really good reason, like an emergency of a sick kid or a sick parishioner. When people say that mom’s juggle, it may look like juggling on the outside to keep so many needs in the air. What the process really entails is intentional setting of priorities and then assessing if those priorities really need to be adjusted or does the person with you at the moment think they need to be adjusted. I always needed to be clear about what was important. Repeat this task over and over in the smallest details and in largest decisions and you get pretty good at it. Power Mom.
Second, Power Moms believe they can do the big important things that are hard. We don’t step away because it is going to push us, challenge us, shape us, and ask something of us that is so deep that you need to get support from your family to make it happen. Power Moms engage the growth process.
Third, Power Moms know how to listen. If a Power Mom charges through the day with only her agenda, then someone is bound to throw up a road block. That road block will likely come from her two-year old or her spouse. I hold up family members first because these are the people who will be the most attuned to being left behind. Power Moms are know how to listen to the the small details and nuances because attending to those when they come up helps her smoothly move through the day. Power Moms are smart about what they hear and how much weight to place on the comment. Is this a complaint or an emerging crisis? Listening to those closest to us, being present to those with whom our hearts are most deepely connected is an essential leadership skill for listening to those whom we lead. How much weight to give the comment from the parish adminstrator, the sexton, the warden, or the member? Be present to whatever they are telling you, stay curious, invite more information, show you care, and then maybe it will be a problem you can solve or a question you can answer. Power Moms hone the skills of not leaving others behind. Power Mom’s are present and they listen.
Clarity, doing the big things, and listening are among the leadership capacities Power Mom build up. I’m grateful 2020 is the year of the Power Mom.