When I went back to work after my first maternity leave, I was determined not to let having a child over shadow my identity as a successful career woman. I worked harder, I found ways to be more efficient, I was hell bent on maintaining my professional identity.
Maybe it's covid, maybe it's age, but as I finish my second maternity leave, my perspective has shifted. This year has presented so many hurdles to the community of working mothers. We are supposed to be fully present parents, while working full time from home. We are navigating the increased responsibilities of being the primary care giver, quarantines, Covid testing, added household chores, and still be productive at work as if none of these things exist all around us. Returning to work, I am taking a different approach this time. I will not pretend that I can be fully present from 9 to 5. I will not exhaust myself trying to prove that I am working as hard as I did before kids. I am leading my identity with my role as a mother of two with career goals. I am a business minded mom!
Is this shift in thinking going to change the way I am viewed in the workplace? Will it hold me back from being considered for certain opportunities? Absolutely! But that is a risk I have to take. As a woman in a position where I can push the boundaries and challenge the status quo, I need to include my identity as a mother into my role as a business woman. I need to acknowledge that any opportunities I miss because I am a mother, are not opportunities I want to take. I have always prided myself on the fact that I work in an environment where diversity is an asset, and the skills developed as a parent are an asset to my career development, not a hindrance.
Not all women have the privilege and the luxury to be so upfront about how their role as a mother ties into their professional identity. In the US alone, approximately 800 000 women left the workforce in September 2020. Whether they were fired, or left on their own, this is a huge set back for working women.
For any woman in a position like I am, I would encourage you to take a stand, and be vocal about the fact that you can wear two hats. You can be a good mom, and a successful career woman. Be open about the fact that it is impossible to work as if you don’t have kids, nor should you. And most of all be kind to yourself, it is a messy and complicated journey, it is riddled with guilt, and exhaustion, and a lot of time trying to juggle too many balls in the air. As long as you know there are other women on this same wild ride as a working mom in a covid world, we can navigate the messy stuff together.