The Balancing Act by: Valeisha Butterfield-Jones

Years ago, a wise woman told me that as a new mom “the years are short, but the days are long.” At the time, I had no idea what that meant and how it would apply to my life.

Fast forward to when I gave birth to my first son at 34 years old, I thought I had life all figured out. Planning for my life began at an early age. I wanted to get an education, have a great career and live out loud in my 20’s, with marriage and kids set for my 30’s. Everything I planned and thought I wanted, came true!

My wedding took place on July 23, 2011. Soon after, I received a call to work for President Obama as his National Youth Vote Director. Life appeared to be picture perfect and going according to plan.

While standing backstage at an event for President Obama in Philadelphia, just three months into my new marriage, I felt sick. Really sick. During the event, I stepped outside to catch a breath of fresh air and started vomiting. Immediately, I dismissed it and thought I had the flu.

My successful event ended, but the vomiting didn’t. A few days later, I discovered that I was pregnant with my first child. In the days following, I was excited, nervous, fearful and concerned.

“What’s wrong with you!? This is everything you wanted. This is everything you prayed for!?”

I couldn’t understand the roller coaster of emotions that I was experiencing at that time. While I was so very excited to be bringing life into the world, I questioned whether I was ready. I questioned whether I could be a great mom. I questioned whether I could put the needs of my child before my own.

At the time, my career was a major priority and my husband respected that. In fact, he was attracted to it and I couldn’t wrap my head around how I would balance motherhood, my marriage and my career.

As my belly and morning sickness grew, I started feeling more and more connected to my baby boy. I finally (well into my second trimester) let my job know the news. The entire team was overjoyed and I continued to work full-time all the way though my pregnancy.

Even in the delivery room, I continued responding to work emails and texts until finally one MAJOR contraction shut me down. When my son was born and husband cut his umbilical cord, it was as if the world stopped. As I held my son close to my chest, in an instant, my life and priorities changed.

This little person, my son, needed me. And I needed him. We needed each other and it was my responsibility to ensure that he receives the best possible life through love and unconditional support.

My career continued, but with a major reprioritization. I started performing the balancing act, which included breastfeeding, diaper changing and doctors visits all as a working mom.

At the end of the day, I believe that God and family come first and the rest will work itself out if we remain focused and committed to the perfectly imperfect journey of motherhood.

The days may seem long and sometimes draining, but we will look back on those moments and only remember the strong and loving connections we made with our babies.

Valeisha Butterfield Jones is the CEO of the Women in Entertainment Empowerment Network (WEEN), Author of The Girlprint and former National Youth Vote Director for Obama for America

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