Before you start accusing me about holding working moms back from having accomplished careers with kids or discouraging successful career women from having babies on account of sacrificing their career, let me explain myself.
This week there was a ton of chatter in the entertainment news world about celebrities and their baby woes: Tyra Banks has been talking about having trouble getting pregnant and the biological reality of waiting until later in life to have a baby (a topic I personally think is absolutely necessary to get out into the open), Kim Cattrall said that not having kids makes her seem selfish to others and Gabrielle Union suggested that the penance for maintaining a kick-a$$ career is “barrenness” (Gabrielle Union’s quote).
For my appearance on HLN’s “The Daily Share” this week, host Rocsi Diaz asked me straight out: Can a woman have kids and still have a fabulous, upward-moving career? I answered what I know to be true firsthand. Watch the clip –>
Don’t freak about my on camera answer now kids. (Marissa Mayer is probably cursing at the screen.) I stand by what I said, I whole-heartedly meant what I said, but there’s a lot more depth to what I said that surface on air (mostly because of limited time for commentators). So why not explain a bit more — for Rocsi — here in my own space:
Yes, women can have amazing careers with kids, but having children [often] changes the way [most] women prioritize their careers… only because a woman’s priorities instinctively change when kids drop into the picture. (I can only base this on my personal experience, the ongoing conversations I’ve had with longtime friends and colleagues across all professions and unending pieces written and discussed online from the millions of mom & parenting sites out there.)
As a 20-something, I was beyond driven and willing to work 40, 50, 60+ hours per week if I needed or wanted to so that I could advance my career as much as I could. I had a bottomless well of energy for doing hard work and had freedom to do things exactly as I wished on a whim: I stayed late, I came in early, I grabbed burritos for dinner from gas stations and ate them in my car if I had to… all because I believed in working hard to build my career. I didn’t have anyone that missed me at home. I didn’t have to put anyone to bed. I didn’t have to make sure anyone else ate dinner. I didn’t have to prepare school assignments or clothes for the next day. I didn’t have tiny voices crying and acting out upon my return at the end of the day because they missed me so much and just wanted time with me. (You get my point.) My career was my life… and I loved it.
It takes drive, motivation, perseverance and lots of long hard work to have a kick-a$$ career. Power to the women.
As a 30-something mom, the story has changed a bit: Staying late, taking on extra assignments, tacking on nighttime or weekend work on a whim is no longer an easy option. Yes, women can get childcare. Yes, women can have hired help assisting them with duties. Yes, women can ask their spouses to fill in the blanks when we need to. But most of the time, it’s just not the same. Kids want their Moms. And as much as we sometimes hesitate to admit this (for fear of some male CEO taking us down), many Moms also want their kids. Kids will most always trump work… period. That’s the way it should be (there, I said it). No matter what ‘style’ of parent you are — if you work part-time, full-time or not at all — the reality of us putting our kids as #1 on the very top of our priority lists remains constant. THAT’S NOT A BAD THING.
My drive has changed with motherhood. It hasn’t gone away, it’s just more focused & refined now. I don’t say this to set women back in the workforce. CHANGE is a GOOD thing. For anyone. Women included. But, that shift in personal priorities can then shift a woman’s career trajectory.
This was the circumstance I feared so much before becoming a mom — the change in perspective. Because, I knew the change in perspective would then refocus my priorities which would then shift the arc of my career. And it has. And it’s okay. I don’t perceive my career in the same way I used to — I still love working — but I think I love working in a more emotionally-healthy, balanced way than before (if that even makes sense).
I don’t say this to send warnings to anyone that might be hiring a woman – or a mom – anytime soon. Yes, motherhood did change me, which then inadvertently changed my career. You know what else it did? It gave me confidence, problem solving skills and a certain patience that I lacked before… which in turn benefits any kind of work I now do. Motherhood changed me in that it limited some things (time & availability) but provided other things (better skills & moxie that I didn’t even know I had).
This isn’t a sexist rant to set women in the workplace back, this just happens to be my current take. We all have our own realities and this is mine. Some may find me offensive. Some may find me refreshing. Some may find me confusing and talking out of both sides of my mouth (since I’m obviously working toward something career-oriented via this blog). Some may find me typical of today’s modern mom (ie: trying to cover all bases and driving myself batty in the meantime).
So yes, a woman’s career will most likely change after she has children… you give some things up, but you get so much more than you thought you ever would. And no is more surprised at the outcome than you. Don’t be scared Miss Rocsi Diaz… that’s the most fabulous part. And please excuse us moms if we try to pull you into our club. –>
For your daily dose of what’s trending on social media — complete with crazy fun commentary and sometimes-controversial rants — check out HLN’s “The Daily Share.” Follow ’em on Twitter. Weigh in. Share their stuff. Talk to Rocsi. Go moms.