Am I Doing This Right?

Jeana Lee Tahnk - Boston, Massachusetts
As heard on The Bob Edwards Show, May 4, 2012
Jeana Lee Tahnk

Like many new mothers, Jeana Lee Tahnk feared she would make mistakes raising her child. Despite her self-questioning, and the endless juggling of childcare duties with her own work responsibilities, Tahnk has found the confidence to trust her instincts. This essay is featured in the book, This I Believe: On Motherhood.

Age Group: 30 - 50
Themes: parenthood
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Am I doing this right?

As a mom, that is a question I ask myself on a daily basis. Whether it’s disciplining tactics or sleep training or wondering if the organic cheez-puffs are really that much better for my kids, motherhood has been a type of training in progress for me; I learn as I go along. Life as a mom and CEO of a household is challenging, and between caring for two young kids, cultivating a successful career, managing schedules, and running a home, the question always remains . . . am I doing this right?

My endless struggle for finding balance between my work life and my home life is difficult to navigate. That, on top of wondering if I’m parenting in a way that my kids will need therapy for is what makes questioning if I’m doing it “right” all the more salient. While I immensely value and recognize my contribution to my family as a mom, it is important to me to contribute to myself through my career as well. And seeking this kind of balance has presented its fair share of obstacles along the way.

Once, on a day when my kids were home, I had to participate in an important client conference call. (Important calls and kids at home don’t complement each other that well, as you can imagine.) In the midst of the discussion, I actually had to run, yes run, down the hall away from my toddler daughter so that her high-pitched screeches wouldn’t filter through the phone and be heard by the CEO, president, and VP of marketing on the other end. While I sat breathless behind the bed, literally hiding from her, I rushed through my talking points in a harried whisper so that I could retreat back into my “safe” mode on mute. The memory of that makes me laugh now, but at that moment, fleeing from my child was the choice I had to make.

I’ve learned over the years that this is what motherhood is about. It’s about the moment-to-moment. It’s about making the decisions that I think are right at the time and believing in them. I know I’ll look back and have regrets about certain ways I handled situations, or things I could have said differently, but it is in the collection of these moments that I define myself as a mom, a wife, and a woman.

There are so many joys and challenges that come with being a mom, and despite my constant questioning, I know I’ll never have all the answers. What I do know is that the decisions I make for my children are always with their best interests at heart and that “right” means many different things at many different times. With that in mind, I can have the confidence and believe, yes, I am doing this right.

Jeana Lee Tahnk is a writer and regular contributor to the Huffington Post, Parenting magazine, Mashable, Cool Mom Tech, and others, exploring parenting, technology, and the intersection of the two. She lives in the Boston area with her husband, their two young kids, and dog.