Thursday, April 9, 2015

Mommy Tracked

It is Thursday at 1:59pm and I am watching an April rain storm from my sunroom with a piping hot cup of tea in hand.  The kids are upstairs napping and I am sitting in peace, happily writing.  I didn't wake up 2 hours before my kids did this morning, I didn't drive to work in the pouring rain, and I showered at 1pm because a friend is coming over later (otherwise, waste precious nap time on a shower? As if). I've played with the kids, had two meals with them, and had the longest conversation I've ever had with one of Noah's teachers.  There is still a lot of day left to go but, at this moment, I can say that I made the right decision.

A month or two ago an opportunity to go part-time at a law firm presented itself to me.  Leaving a hard-to-get in-house position wasn't something I would just do so, with nothing to lose, I decided to ask for exactly what I'd want in a job and not a drop less  (a mostly flex/work from home schedule, a couple of days "off" a week, a very competitive salary, and opportunity in the future for partnership), and see what happened.  Well, to my surprise, they said yes.  To all of it.   I was thrilled.  I would be able to continue developing as a lawyer, continue to significantly contribute financially to our family, and have much more time with my kids.  I made something happen that I've been talking about for years, and was feeling pretty empowered...that is, until I resigned from my job.  People at my company were shocked that I was leaving -- until I said the words "part-time."  And then, each and every person responded in the exact same way: they nodded their heads.  I know, it seems like an innocuous enough gesture.  But (to me) it meant "of course, you're a mom, part-time makes more sense."  For weeks I listened to all of the trite commentary: "You'll never regret the time with your kids"; "They're only young once"; "They grow up so fast".  And then it hit me...the outside world had officially mommy-tracked me.  Nevermind that in my new role I would still be working the majority of the week and in a rigorous and even more demanding setting.  Nope, in their eyes, I had officially taken a step back in the name of my kids and that put me in a different bucket.  For some reason, this perception (or what I perceived to be the perception) really threw me.  Of course the primary reason I was taking the new job was to achieve a better balance and have more time with the kids.  But if I hadn't worked my butt off for the past nine years, such an opportunity may not have presented itself, and I certainly would not have been able to negotiate the salary and schedule I got.  I didn't feel like it was a step back, but a rare career opportunity that I had earned.

It gave me a small glimpse into the real perception of FT working mamas.  That we aren't fully raising our kids, that we are missing something...and while admirable and respectable, making that choice doesn't always feel "right" to others.  People tend to make the assumption that if a mom could choose to spend more time (or all of her time) at home, she would.  So my news was met with more than just understanding from others, it was almost met with a sense of relief.  And I sorta felt like I was letting the FT working mama cause down.  The truth is that I would have preferred to remain full-time if I had more flexibility.  I wasn't missing my kids grow up - I had good, quality time with them each day and did all of the things I would do if I were home with them on a smaller scale.  I didn't make the change to be more of a mom, because I was always 100% a mom.  And, likewise, working on a new schedule won't make me less of an attorney.  The "tracks" are far more complex than "mommy" or "working".  Oversimplifying it does a real injustice to almost all the women I know who, whether working or not or raising kids or not, pretty much rule the world.

But today, well, today is glorious.  Today, I will put any (perceived) perception aside and have faith that I made the right choice.  I will revel in the extra time with my kids, I will work hard to prove myself in a new job, and by golly I will finish this hot cup of tea.


  1. Wonderful post! Motherhood throws us into so many new situations that make us more understanding; nothing is straightforward. It's humbling and infuriating. And a whole cup of tea is heavenly!

  2. Wonderful post! Motherhood throws us into so many new situations that make us more understanding; nothing is straightforward. It's humbling and infuriating. And a whole cup of tea is heavenly!