It’s 10:13am, and my phone rings. My boss’ name lights up the screen. I’m watching Princess’ swimming lesson while entertaining Monkey with books and lollipops.
“Hi Boss”, I say, hoping that she doesn’t notice the background noise. I know I’m not supposed to be working since I’m part time, but I still have that “caught at the local
Walgreens during class time” feeling.
“Hey- can you look up such-and-such factoid for me by my 11am meeting with our VP? I know you don’t start until 1, but I don’t have time to get it together, and I know you’ll do a great job”.
“I’d love to help, but I’m at swim lessons, won’t be home until 11:15, and my nanny doesn’t come until 1.”
“Oh, ok. I’ll figure it out. Bye.”
The phone goes quiet while I earn another demerit on the invisible board of job performance. I feel badly about my inability to do what’s being asked of me, and hate the fact that I can’t rise to the occasion because of my choice to be a mommy, but if I had to do it all again, I wouldn’t change a thing.
When we walk through the doors of the corporate world, we’re expected to leave our mommy selves behind. Excuses like, “I’m cutting out early to go watch my son’s soccer practice” or “I’m working from home so that I can meet my daughter at the bus stop” don’t earn you any points in many corporate cultures. While some bosses can act like they understand or support you putting your mommy-self first,
they want you available when they want you, despite agreed upon schedules, sick children, or child care conflicts.
How many working moms have put a sick kid in front of the TV for endless hours while they took calls and answered emails? How many of us dread school breaks because we have to figure out plans to keep our children occupied while we get our work done? How many of us take calls on mute while hoping that nobody hears our children playing in the background? Being a working mom is tough, but being in an
environment where being a mom isn’t embraced makes the balance even tougher.
When we welcomed our daughter, my life was changed forever. All of my previous roles were second to my role as mommy, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. When I went back to work, 10 months and a cross-country move later, I gave a clear message of “I’m a mom first, and will only be able to work 20 hours per week.” I felt blessed to have this type of flexibility, but I’ve since realized that it comes with a
Since I’m the only part time person in our department, I feel a need to always be on top of emails and voice mails, even during my mommy time, so that I don’t slow anyone else down with my alternative schedule. When a mandatory meeting comes during my off hours, I try to fix my plans so that I can attend, even if that means Elmo is babysitting my kids, and I can’t remember the last time my time card read
only 20 hours. When I answer the phone during my mommy time, I do it knowing that my kids may have a fit demanding my attention and the person on the other line is going to question my professionalism.
Ever since coming back to work, I feel like I’m constantly being pulled between my mommy world and my working world, and while I know my priorities, it’s hard for me to find the line when I’m responding to co-workers. When I put myself on the job market, I’m constantly told what a good gig I have, and that I should hang on as long as I can. As good as it is, I want more. I want to be a mom first- no explanation
or justification required. I want to make good money. I want to love what I do, so that being away from my kids comes with something that brings me pleasure. I want to be a good role model to them as someone who has pursued a career that makes her happy. I don’t know if what I want exists, but I’m doing my best to find it.
How do you find career happiness and balance?
Is there such thing as a mommy-self in Corporate America?