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Shhh… I love my job!

Categories: Balancing Act, Career Talk, Working Women Issues


woman-whispering.jpgThe other day I had lunch with a mom I’d just met (yes, it was business networking, but you know how quickly those things turn personal if two women click.) We talked for about 10 minutes when she leaned towards me and said “You know, I really love what I do and I would never give it up to be a full-time mom. I know it’s awful that I feel this way, but it’s true.” She said this almost in a whisper.

This isn’t the first time I’ve heard a mom say this, in so many words. Heck, I’ve said it myself on numerous occasions, usually only after making sure that the person I am saying this to won’t give me the you-should-feel-awful look. But why are we so afraid to admit that we love to work?

When I did the interview for the Boston Globe piece the reporter asked why I thought it was more difficult to be a working mom than a working dad. I said that one reason, at least for me, was that when I became a mom it was almost as if that identity had to take over all others that I have as a person - thinker, wife, entrepreneur, writer, etc. In business meetings people would ask me first about being a mom and then about the business at hand (sometimes in ways that infuriated me!) When I was shopping around my book my agent suggested that I not tell the editors that I was pregnant before we had a signed contract because “she might assume that as a mom you won’t work hard to promote your work.”

I don’t think men encounter this. When they become fathers they don’t lose their other identities in the eyes of others. Every single guy I worked with at my previous job was a father, some many times over, and I don’t recall anyone asking them about their kids at a board meeting.

Yes, being a mom is the most incredible and overwhelming experience and it does take up an disproportionate part of our lives, thoughts, emotions, and energies. But it doesn’t obliterate all the other things that we are and for some of us, being passionate about our work or loving our jobs remains true even after we become mothers. I think we should stop whispering about this and I think we should give ourselves a break and not feel guilty about it.

(Now I just have to learn to practice what I preach…)

What do you think? Do you whisper about loving your job? Do you think it’s wrong to be so invested in work when you’re a mom?

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8 comments so far...

  • I wish I could honestly say I love my job - but there are definitely times I don’t. But I do know that I wasn’t cut out to be a stay-at-home mom, and that working is very important for my mental, emotional, and financial well-being, and I think that well-being is VERY important to being a good mom. We were women before we were moms, and I think you’re entirely correct that parenthood doesn’t seem to take over identity nearly as much for working dads. But women often tend to define themselves through their relationships, and men are more likely to define themselves by what they do, so that’s probably a factor. If we’re happy with what we’re doing, and doing it the best we can - by our own measure, no one else’s - there’s no cause for guilt. (I’m trying to believe that one myself - sometimes I do.)

    Florinda  |  September 18th, 2007 at 12:19 pm

  • I’m not one to whisper.

    Yes I like what I do and don’t have any reservations about being a working mother, and I’ll say the same to anyone who’ll listen to me.

    Jane  |  September 18th, 2007 at 12:59 pm

  • I have the luxury of working for a non-profit that fights against a disease that nearly took my life. This gives me the “excuse” to publicly profess how much I love my job. And I have slightly less guilt because my job isn’t just a job — it’s a mission.

    Truth is, though, this is just a cover that allows me to avoid the whispering. Yes, I’ve purposely chosen this career path and wouldn’t choose otherwise, but it’s not the only reason I love working. I love working for all the reasons working mothers who choose to work love working. Because it’s challenging and personally fulfilling. And because I can dress up in nice clothes and not worry about anyone getting anything on me and I can sit and eat lunch without having to jump up fifty times to get people things.

    Amy S.  |  September 18th, 2007 at 7:29 pm

  • I think Nataly is very accurate in her description of woman’s role once she has children. I’m expecting my first child in November and I can’t believe how consistent people’s reaction has been! Men and women would say: “wow, that’s so great! Aren’t you excited???” After I get a few minutes to express my excitement, my favorite question comes up. “So are you still working? When are you planning on quitting?” What really infuriates me is the assumption that I can’t do both! It’s almost as if WHY would I want to work and raise children at the same time? It’s just amazing how our society thinks and I think this is one of the main reasons we are forced to whisper about the fact that we are choosing to work.

    victoria  |  September 19th, 2007 at 7:16 am

  • I believe this kind of thinking can also hold you back career-wise. In my own head for a while I treated working full time as some kind of temporary thing I’m doing till we can afford for me to quit, but the reality is I like my work, I’ve created a successful career, and I needed to commit to it or I would never get beyond where I was. I wouldn’t want to stay home full time - and I think its funny that women in the past who did used to be called “housewives” or “homemakers” - it wasn’t all about being a parent and making the kids the center of the universe. I try never to apologize and surround myself with people who don’t expect me to. My son doesn’t expect it and he’s the only one who matters.

    Larisa  |  September 20th, 2007 at 9:08 am

  • I admit I am a stay-at-home mom that dreams of going back to the workforce. The job I had I L-O-V-E-D but when I moved an hour away, thought it best to quit. Plus, we could afford it since my job wasn’t a job about making money. I worked for possibly the BEST small business owners EVER and it became more like a family for me since I was the only non-relative in a business which employed 5 people…anyway, I’ve gotten off subject.

    People look at me weird when I rave about the job I left and, if given the chance, would go back to it in a minute. I am not looking to go back into the workforce (as my college degree was in studio art so I’m kind of a freelancer) but if I could go back to work for the people at the gallery, I wouldn’t hesitate.

    And NO, I don’t think Moms that work either at home or outside are “awful”…I secretly envy them :)

    Suzanne  |  September 20th, 2007 at 12:53 pm

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