By Ashley Mackin
Celebrating the second anniversary of her book “Good Enough is the New Perfect: Finding Happiness and Success in Modern Motherhood” (published on Mother’s Day 2011) temporary La Jolla resident Hollee Temple uses Mother’s Day as a chance to share her advice for working moms on the seemingly impossible balancing act of motherhood and career, and feeling successful in both.
Spending her sabbatical in La Jolla with her husband and two sons, Temple is a law professor at West Virginia University and public speaker on her book’s messages.
“As a professor, I’m dealing with students in their mid-20s, who are also at the crossroads of ‘how am I going to manage my career and be a mom?’ ”
To find out, she and writing partner Becky Beaupre Gillespie sent out surveys through their professional networks and social media. Temple said within 10 days, they received more than 1,000 responses spanning 42 states and various careers. The results of that survey, which Temple said includes extensive answers to open-ended questions, is that women find themselves in two groups, which she calls the “never-enoughs” and the “good-enoughs.”
The never-enoughs are the textbook perfectionists, Temple said. “They had to be No. 1 in every element of their lives. They were killing themselves at work and killing themselves at home, feeling like they had to excel at everything.”
The good-enoughs, “were more able to prioritize and realize it would be impossible to succeed on every front at the same time, and were more directed in how their time and energy was used,” she said.
Initially, Temple said she thought the never-enoughs would have more markers of success, because they were so driven to be successful. In reality, the opposite was true, especially in relationships. The good-enoughs reported being happier in marriages and friendships, while the never-enoughs were six times more likely to describe their marriage as “not very good” or even “a disaster.”
“The never-enoughs didn’t take time for themselves, they didn’t feel they had that their life reflected their priorities, they didn’t have time for hobbies or friends and generally were less satisfied,” she said, however, they typically made more money.
After sifting through these interviews, Temple came to two conclusions, which are the big messages in the book.
■ The first, she said, is that
doing your best is not the same as being the best.
“I think a lot of people confuse those two. They think of ... who looks the best, who works out the most, who makes the best meals for their (families), who only lets their kids eat food grown in the garden,” she said. “People have taken motherhood to such a competitive level these days, it’s like an Olympic event.”
■ The other message is,
don’t chase some else’s definition of success.
“You have to choose for yourself what success looks like and it probably won’t look like the success of your co-worker or neighbor or best friend. There are so many ways to be a good mom and ... the way that they choose is probably the right way for them,” she said.
One way for moms to re- lieve some of the pressure to be perfect is to choose, and focus on, their own priorities. Drawing from her own life, Temple said she is not crafty, she doesn’t knit and never will, but she likes to cook. “That’s what I prioritize.”
She said people ask her what they should do to have better work-life balance. “Moms should not feel that it’s selfish to take care of themselves,” she often replies. “I hear that again and again — I’ll ask moms ‘When do you get time to relax?’ and a common answer is ‘the dentist chair.’ That’s not enough you time, you deserve more than that, you can’t be the kind of mom and the kind of professional you want to be if you don’t take time to recharge.”
Heeding her own advice, Temple often finds herself at the Bellini Beauty Bar on La Jolla Boulevard. She is thinking about taking that piece of La Jolla with her when her family returns to West Virginia.
“I’m considering a collab- oration with them to open a Bellini Beauty Bar in Morgantown and keep the connection to La Jolla alive,” she said. “I love the idea of providing that opportunity (to recharge) for women.”
Giving what she considers adequate time for herself, her job and her children has helped her feel successful. She said she is constantly working on feeling successful in the one thing she considers most important, “I feel strongly that my kids are only going to be little once and I want to be there.”