The 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?