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Trustworthy • Open-Minded • Hopeful

Her Story

Heather Holland

Executive Director - Peterborough Youth Services

Heather's Story :

If you asked my daughter, she might tell you that I work at Z.S.O., which is apparently how you say P.Y.S. (Peterborough Youth Services) in fairy language! Like countless other parents I muddle through the lovely challenges that come with the combined busyness of having a big job and a big role in a kid’s life.

Many women in my generation were told when they were young that they could have it all… but no one provided a handbook on how to actually do it all. I have two spunky, smart and loving daughters. Eight years ago when I was expecting my first, I was in an Executive Director role at a small women’s health organization. When she was born, I looked at this little person and tried to make sense of how I would be there for her in the way I intended to while also honouring a drive to continue in leadership roles at work. It’s been a personal project these last eight years to figure out how to do both gracefully. I’m certainly doing both, but the graceful days are rare. It is getting easier in some ways as they get older and at least it’s less likely now that I’ll show up to work with peanut butter on my blazer! My own
opportunities and choices likely would have been radically different without a stellar partner and extended family support.

I commiserate about the messiness of doing it all as often as my colleagues and friends will tolerate because I believe that talking about it will help us to change things up. There is still a lot of societal change work to do to create an equitable playing field for women and amongst women. For the girls and women in my daughters’ generation, I hope that they will have increased options and opportunities to define balance for themselves according to their own priorities (e.g., family friendly workplaces as the norm; inclusive ways of defining family; increased job sharing in leadership roles; increased accommodation for caregivers in the workplace etc.).

I also talk to my own kids about my work because I want to show them what one possibility looks like.\ When I ask my daughters what they hope to do when they’re adults they have amazing answers. Their responses are different depending on the day, but the best part is that they always string lots of big jobs and roles together in the same sentence “a rock-climber, a mom, a police” or “a doctor, an artist, a grandma”.

Hopefully our stories as parents about our attempts to do it all can be a chapter in the handbook our kids will write for themselves.