What Moms Talk About When We Talk About Our Jobs

POSTED ON 18/11/2015

What Moms Talk About When We Talk About Our Jobs

When I was two months pregnant with my first child, my boss pulled me aside to discuss one of my direct reports who was also pregnant (and a total bad ass). Take her off of all important projects immediately, he said. Pregnant women are crazy.

Now you might think that this same boss was kind of peeing his pants when he found out he’d just served this edict to another undoubtedly unnerved baby machine. Nope. He just offered me this advice: You think you are going to want to come back to work, but you aren’t. Once you have the baby you will want to stay home. Happened to my sister and she had a big job too.

This was Silicon Valley 2004, not Boston in the late 50s where my mother had to quit work (with no pay) as soon as she reached 3 months pregnant with my brother and sister. Despite her best attempts to hide her condition, her boss would actually listen in at the ladies’ room door and catch her puking. Luckily, things had changed by the time I came around in 1970. But apparently not that much.

The worst part of all this is that there have been moments over the years where I have wondered if this boss was right. I have doubted my choices, doubted my abilities and frankly resented friends and family members that got to stay home with their kids. I have thought oh you stay at home mothers, you have it so good. I have judged the ladies at the gym with the blown out hair, kids in daycare and perfect abs. I have thought they had it easier than me.

But they don’t.

Staying at home is a job too. You undoubtedly get all the crap jobs that no one ever wanted to do. If I didn’t have a day job there are about 1,000 projects I could take on that I know I never will have time for, like fixing the hole in the hall wall, removing spider webs from the windows, creating baby books for my two youngest, or even keeping up with the laundry so my couch is something you can sit on instead of an “open air bureau” (although I am proud of this concept and may trademark it).

But if I stayed at home, I still wouldn’t get it (whatever it was) done. And when I talked about how I hadn’t performed well at my job — or about how my kids kept me up crying so I couldn’t get my press release written — well, just substitute food shopping for press release, and you get the picture.

Why do I talk about this? I’m not trying to get working moms and stay-at-homes to come together and hold hands and solve world hunger. I’m just trying to recognize the fact that when moms talk about their jobs they often talk about them in terms of what they didn’t accomplish, rather than what they did. Whether we work in the home or not, we carry around a tick list of “to do”s that are unachievable so we are never successful.

And if we stay home, we pine to be the mom in the fancy (mind you ripped jeans, this is the Valley) heading into the city. And the worker bee mom longs to kick off her high heeled boots and go fold some laundry. And the mom in the yoga pants who is working from home longs to have a clear sense of exactly what to-do list she should be thinking about at that moment, envying the clarity of the other two.

So instead of celebrating all we do accomplish (I got a client in Fortune this week — and I never even sent my husband the story link), I will tell my friends about the fact I have held my pee for 30 minutes to write this story because if I get up I will find something else to do. Although, if I think about it, being able to hold pee for 30 minutes after having three 9 pound-plus kids is pretty freaking awesome.

Moms, today, when someone asks you about your day, share something awesome you did. Screw the stuff that you didn’t get done. That’s for tomorrow.