It all started for me on one of those awful days. After school, my three year old laid down on the floor, repeatedly screamed “mommy” and kicked herself around in circles. Then, with no explanation, she got up and was a dream child for the next couple of hours. But, by then, I was beyond emotionally exhausted. (But seriously how could I be mad at this face?)
Later, I was cooking dinner, doing dishes, straightening the kitchen, answering questions about dinner, snacks, toys, etc. Motherhood has made me realize I am not good at multi-tasking and I get overstimulated easily. Especially when I am already in a bad mood. The events of the day had me in that place where the voices in my head started talking. Not real voices, but the ones that bring back every sad moment in your life, that make you doubt yourself. I was questioning whether we’d ever fit in here. Whether I should go back to work. Remembering every time I wish I’d yelled less, crafted with my kids more or all around been super mom.
I go there every once in a while. Thankfully less than I used to, partly due to life experience and partly due to spiritual growth. By nature, though, I am someone who wants to DO something about things. I volunteer in my daughter’s school and learn that others are having playdates and she isn’t, I plan a tea party (pics soon). I am having trouble finding things in my house, I organize. See, I AM supermom after all. So, my mind quickly turned to what I could do about my current frustrations.
I pondered an old role I had of helping managers with employee engagement and change management. And I wondered if I could apply this knowledge to what I was doing now: cooking and dishes and carpooling and laundry – and keep a positive attitude during it all. (Have I mentioned dishes yet? Or that we don’t have a dishwasher?) That’s when I came up with the idea of Employee Engagement for Moms.
Unless you’ve worked in a place that focuses on Employee Engagement, you may not know what it is. Quite simply, it has to do with how employees feel about their jobs. Specifically, I will be focusing on the Gallup Q12. Essentially, this is a set of questions that Gallup has come up with to measure, for lack of a better word, employee satisfaction*. (Can you guess how many questions there are?) Teams/work groups who rate these questions higher have higher employee retention, productivity, profitability, customer loyalty, etc. In short, happy employees are valuable to an organization. (I do not get paid by Gallup to endorse their questions, I have just seen the impact they can have. And I LOVE data, so the rigor they put into the discussion gives my inner math geek a warm fuzzy feeling. If they did pay me, though, I’d tell you to read 12: The Elements of Great Managing by Wagner and Harter if you are a manager)
As a mom, I, too, am responsible for my engagement. And how I feel impacts those around me. Reminds me of the old expression “If Momma ain’t happy, ain’t no one happy.” Yes, no situation is perfect, but I am in control of what I do about it to be more profitable, productive, etc. or whatever these measures translate to in the home. It requires the humbling realization that I am having an impact on my girls today, with the hope that they will have a positive impact on the world when they grow up.
Of course, I am approaching this from an academic and business-y perspective. But there are spiritual implications too. The first verse anyone ever shared with me that made me realize the Bible applied to MY life is from Matthew 6: 31-34: “So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”
I was amazed to learn that God didn’t want me to worry. Instead, he wanted me to “seek first his kingdom and his righteousness.” But, gosh, what do that mean? How do you do that? It has a lot to do with the realization that God is in control. I have a number of examples where this has been true in my life, but the first dramatic one for me was when I quit my full time job to work on my Master’s degree, thinking I had an assistantship that would pay for it. A few months later, the funds were cut and now I had no job and no way to pay for school. The rug had been pulled out from under me. Or so I thought. One week before my assistantship was over, I got a call to interview for an internship at the company I ended up working for almost 11 years (I did not even remember applying there). That job helped provide for my family and helped me grow in so many ways.
And I grew so much during that time. While at first it seemed like I’d been obedient to God and gone back to school only to have the opportunity erased and no income, it all turned out for the best. The bible is full of verses that confirm this belief. I encourage you to memorize them if you have not already.
Jeremiah 29:11: 11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. (This is one is “the classic.”)
1 Peter 5:7: Cast all your anxiety on Him, for He cares for you. (I wrote this one on construction paper and posted it on my college dorm wall. I’d been a Christian for a couple of years, but the idea that I could cast my anxiety on God like a fisherman casta a net and He’d take it, amazed me. But even more remarkable was that the Bible actually said in laymen’s terms that God cared for me. For me).
Figuring this out is a lifelong challenge, of course. But there will be struggles, that is guaranteed. But I am growing to believe that how we handle them is what is important. So, focusing on these 12 questions will be as much of a growing experience for me as it is for you. The first topic I will conquer is “I know what is expected of me at work.” I expect this one to be lots of fun. 🙂
*Gallup developed these questions after much research (interviews, focus groups, testing different questions and their correlation with business measures.