As a working mom, it was an honor and a privilege to moderate a conversation between 4 amazing women at this year’s Leadership Lunch.
The topic: does a work-life balance exist for women in the military community? But really, the conversation applied to women—and even men with families.
Lieutenant General Flora Darpino, the first female Judge Advocate General of the U.S. Army is married to a retired Army colonel. They raised two daughters together. For LTG Darpino, it’s not about work-life balance. It’s about life.
“For me, work and life don’t have to be two separate things. I don’t look at it as two different buckets on a tight rope that I am trying to balance. I just have to figure out what is going to be in the bucket that I am going to carry.”
Lakesha Cole, 2014 Armed Forces Insurance Military Spouse of the Year®, is an entrepreneur. She’s founder and CEO of “She Swank Too,” a boutique for women and girls. She stays balanced by bringing her kids to work with her, going along with the theme that life and work aren’t necessarily separate.
“My daughter lets me know that I am spending too much time at the computer. My daughter went so far as hiding my computer charger. Set those boundaries and stick to them.”
Reda Hicks, 2014 Armed Forces Insurance Army Spouse of the Year®, has been a “remote” spouse for the past 6 years. She’s a practicing attorney in Houston, Texas where she lives with her son while her husband is stationed at Ft. Riley, Kansas.
“Women are their own worst critics. Is something that I am going to do when he is 3-years-old going to mess him up for the rest of his life? A lot of us are Type A, and we need to sometimes let some of that control go. I don’t have a formula for how it’s all supposed to work, but you just have to take it day-to-day.”
Claudia Meyers, wrote, directed and produced Fort Bliss, a movie about an Army medic who comes back from deployment and struggles to resume her role of “mom” to her young son.
“It was the ultimate working mom scenario. Just like civilian mothers, it’s finding that balance between career and family. It’s one of the elements that goes into decision making – she is trying to make the best decision she can in an imperfect situation. When can you really be present and what compromises do you have to make.”
So, does a work-life balance exist for women in the military community? I learned that the answer depends on what balance means to each individual.
Now excuse me while I go reevaluate what’s in my bucket.