Part III: My Baby Is a Real Person! Now What?
This is the last part of the Being a Working Mama series. It's been so fun and educational to approach this subject with loved ones more deeply than I have in the past. Yesterday, I was mentioning the contrasting opinions that arose in Part II to a colleague and friend, and I loved her response:
"But that's what Motherhood is. Not only is it personal, but in itself, Motherhood is a set of contradictions. I can't even get through the day without contradicting myself!"
Thank you again to my wise loved ones for sharing your perspectives...
"I wouldn't trade the experience; being their mom tempered my ambitions, slowed my driven-self, and deepened my heart's capacity. I'm a far better version of myself as a mother."
"Work is not the only thing in your life; you are not part of something quite uncanny, the forming and shaping of human life. You still work to deadlines but you are not going to lose your soul over it... Every day you are making memories; you have to be present and enjoy them. Mindfulness is a big part of being able to keep your work and home life separate - be there in that meeting, asking those questions with your game face on."
"It's hard to 'have it all.' I was doing a lot but maybe not as well as I could have. I learned to 'fake' a lot of stuff at home - to take short cuts in my baking, party, prep, etc. My kids paid the price for my hardly ever being around... A lot of the non-working mothers gave off vibes of disapproval... I felt pretty left out socially in our community... I truly believe that you cannot 'have it all' without legions of help - good childcare, competent colleagues and assistance, and most importantly - a partner who pulls his/her weight."
"The minute my children were born, my 'career' as an educator became a job."
"Here is what happens: many women do return [after maternity leave], and they actually are better than before they went out on leave... Being a working mom has made me incredibly efficient. It has forced me to be focused and deliberate at every facet of my job. Less eloquently, you just don't have time to deal with bullshit or politics when you have to either get in later or leave early to do pickup... At the end of my first pregnancy, I was the lead on closing a new deal. I was a negotiating machine. I thank my hormones. I also got promoted, thanks also to my hormones. I learned to use them to my advantage."
"My biggest piece of advice: take time for yourself. It might seem counter-intuitive because ultimately we want to be with our kids, but between the pressure of motherhood and the pressure of work, you will be SUCH a better mom if you take a little time each week for yourself. For me, it's the gym most mornings and the bakery alone on Sunday mornings... Don't forget the person you were before you had kids. You will change. It's inevitable. But the pleasures you had beforehand should still be honored."
"I've been fortunate to have supportive bosses... Neither of them had children, but they showed a lot of empathy. I chalk this up to one of the benefits of 'modern' men and shifting priorities for all people in the workplace. That being said, do I think that I have missed out on opportunities because I want to leave the office a few minutes early or manage my travel carefully? Yes. But I am okay with those trade-offs. Right now, I would rather have the extra time with my family. Sometimes it makes me sad, but I try to remind myself that I have choices in life and career, and I own them... I am comfortable and confident in my choice that [what I'm doing] is right for me and my family. Perfect? Nope. But right."
PS - a Lean-In update from Sheryl Sandberg after becoming a single mother 1 year ago
Image courtesy of Plum Pretty Sugar