I’m excited to be back with another installment of our Real Talk / Real Moms series. If you didn’t catch any of our posts from last fall, here’s the 10 second recap. A group of powerhouse bloggers that span the blogging world from coast to coast, who all also happen to have had babies in the last year or two decided to come together to talk challenges of motherhood. Thus far we’ve tackled Sleep, Travel and Feeding. It’s been SO interesting hear everyone’s different experiences and perspectives.
But I’m particularly excited about today’s topic. We’re jumping into one of the hottest issues out there right now – being a working mom. Whether you love to lean in or think that having it all is an urban myth, it’s virtually impossible not to have something to say about this topic. I certainly could go on ad nauseam. But for your sake, I will attempt to be succinct. Somewhat.
I find I often have a slightly different struggle with being a working mom then quite a few ladies I talk to. And my position might be a bit controversial, but oh well. Here we go.
You see I didn’t cry when I left my son and went back to work. I cried on my last day before maternity leave when I said good-bye to my office. Sure, I don’t always love that I spend less than three hours a day with my baby. But I’m not racked with guilt by it. I refuse to be. I ensure my time with him is dedicated and fully focused (aka phone free). I treasure each morning and evening. We do bath time, feeding, play games and read books. It’s lovely. But I’m also happy to hand him over to a wonderful caregiver as I head to the office. I know he’s in capable hands who’s purpose is to look after his well-being. That’s literally their only job. And they love their work just as much as I love mine. (It also helps that this Harvard Business School study shows that children of working moms are more likely to have successful careers and be better homemakers.)
I really love what I do. I get a lot of self-satisfaction, and to be perfectly candid, self-worth out of my work. My frustration with being a working mom does not lie in how it limits me at home. It lies in how career-limiting being a woman with children can be – or at least I have found it to be thus far.
For starters, my efficiency has totally decreased. Between getting to work much later than I used to and having to be out the door to relieve the nanny, I manage to check one, maybe two things off of my daily to-do list. Emails? At least a 72-hour minimum response time. The deluge is endless. This leaves me feeling totally ineffective.
I’ve also found that all of the professional momentum I was building prior to having a baby has stalled and I haven’t quite figured out how to get that engine revving again. The strict schedule, the sleep deprivation and all the time spent pumping does not align with the typical profile of the office overachiever. There are also really tangible disadvantages for working women with kids. No matter how supportive your workplace might be or how supportive a partner you might have, the biases are intrinsic. You will be perceived to be less committed. People will think that you don’t “work as hard as you used to” (even though you’r actually working 10x harder – on average I have 45 minutes of unstructured time a day – max). I actually read a scary stat recently. On average the salaries of women with children are 12% less than those of women without kids. This is not true for men. Just women. And it really pisses me off.
Do I think that the societal structures that set women up to be primary caregivers, that tend to prioritize male careers and devalue commitments to family are wrong and should be changed? Of course I do. But I don’t have illusions that it’s going to happen anytime soon. Instead I’m left trying to figure how I can feel like I’m being as effective at my job as I used to be (while still being a good mom of course).
I wish I could tell you that I’ve found the answer. Sadly, I haven’t. Sure I’m trying to be more efficient with my time (thanks to this power-mama’s post). Sure, I’m trying to cut myself some slack because I’ve only been back from maternity leave since September and Carter is only 9-months old, but I so badly want to lean in and feel like I’m a amazonian power woman doing absolutely everything, but I think I fall more in the Ann-Marie Slaughter camp. You might be able to have it all, but not at the same time.
Sorry, not quite so succinct.
But I’m dying to hear what the rest of the mamas have to say on this topic. Be sure to check out their posts by clicking the links below. And of course, I’d be thrilled to hear your thoughts (and advice!) in the comments.
image 1 via here, original photography for apartment 34 by suzanna scott