Embracing My Label as a “Working Mom”

Figuring out this whole “working mom” thing isn’t easy.  But, I am making progress. In fact, I had a huge breakthrough last weekend.

Figuring out this whole “working mom” thing isn’t easy.  But, I am making progress. In fact, I had a huge breakthrough last weekend.

I involve my daughter, Grace, in as much as I can with my work.  I want her to understand what I am doing and why I do it. I want her to see that dreaming big and doing scary things is good.  I also want her to see that failure isn’t bad…it is just a stepping stone along the way. We talk about my failures a lot and celebrate them together as we talk about what I learned from each one.

But, I have done all of this with her at home..in private.  I have shared my work with her but I have never shared her with my work.  

After 20+ years in corporate America, I witnessed first hand how working moms are often labelled as “less than.”  I overheard conversations where women were being criticized for missing a meeting because their child was sick. I helped women hiding out in the bathroom crying because they were missing an event at their child’s school because they were afraid to ask for 90 minutes off.  On the flip side, I also heard men being celebrated and called a “good dad” for leaving work to watch his child’s soccer game.

This affected me more than I knew.  When Grace was born and maternity leave was over, I felt like I had to work twice as hard to prove to my co-workers that I was still “in the game.” They didn’t make me feel this way directly, but my past was haunting me…and I did NOT want to be talked about behind my back.

I made a point of NOT talking about my new baby.  I worked extra hours at night. I ultimately did more than I needed to in an effort to look like “nothing changed.”  

Embracing My Label as a Working Mom
photo cred: @thealiciabrice

But something DID change!  I was a mom now. My daughter was ALWAYS on my mind..even during a conference call.  If I worked at night, it was with her in my lap. She was now an integral part of my life…I was a full fledged working mom.  Mom is not a part time job.

So…back to my big breakthrough.  Last weekend, myBeeHyve sponsored a 1 day conference called The Swarm.  This conference was a dream in the making for over a year. I talked about it a LOT.  Grace knew the agenda by heart. She knew every speaker, where they lived, and what they were an expert in.  She came with me when I went to look at possible locations. She felt like a part of the team.

But…the day of the event…I needed to be “on.”  I needed to be 100% focused and committed to the incredible female entrepreneurs that were there.  The night before the event, Grace asked what time her and Jeff, my husband, should be there. Jeff chimed in saying he would love to stop by and check it out.

I froze.

What would people think if my husband and daughter stopped by?  Would I look “less than?” Would I look like I was not committed to our attendees?  Would I look weak?

I started to tell her she couldn’t come…and then I stopped myself.  I WANTED her there. I WANTED my husband there. I was proud of this day and I wanted to share it with them.  So, I told them to pop by during lunch or snack break, check things out, and grab some food.

The next day, Grace and Jeff showed up about 10 minutes before lunch break.  Seeing their smiling faces walk in lifted my spirits. Grace quietly sat in my lap and listened to the speaker finish her talk about Instagram.  Grace was in her element. She chatted with several women during lunch and ate way too many brownies. She felt the excitement and energy in the room.  She got to see first hand a group of incredible role models.

Sharing a small snapshot of that event with my family made me proud.  And, sharing my family with all of those women made me proud, too. Allowing everyone to see me as a mom made me stronger, not weaker.  In that moment, I was able to fully embrace being a “working mom”…filled with nothing but pride.

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