A friend of mine recently asked me how I balance work and motherhood. She said it looked like I was doing a good job of finding a way to do both.
The other day another couple asked me how I manage to travel, present, and raise my son.
At first, I thought about saying, “well, I don’t really work. This is just for fun.” But the more I thought about it, I realized that I am working. It’s the concept of what work is that has changed.
I realized that I am working. It’s the concept of what work is that has changed.
During my years IT Consulting, work was 8-5 with a one-hour lunch break. Work meant traveling to client’s twice a month, spending time in makeshift work areas. We’d camp out in the “war rooms” dedicated to the project. Work meant getting approval for time off and periodic employee reviews.
When I left consulting to join the startup world, I had to change my perception of “work” again. Not to say all startups are like this, but the 9-5 routine went out the window. There were no clear work hours because there were no pre-defined workflows. We had to define them for ourselves and start everything from scratch.
Work meant being connected to Slack more than my desk computer. Work meant traveling every month or so, figuring out what to do along the way. Work felt like chaos but a fun chaos with the promise of big things to come. If I wanted a day off, I took it. We had honest conversations with how each of us co-founders was doing in real-time, no need to wait for quarterly reviews.
Now, I have to change what “work” means again. My highest priority is being there for my son, who is now 8 months old. While he can entertain himself for longer periods, it also means he gets into more trouble. His favorite thing is to do is explore, which means slamming the robot vacuum into the ground, eating the dog’s food out of the bowl, and finding cords to pull himself up on. Keeping him from hurting himself, now that’s work!
Professionally, I fit “work” into the naptime hours and after baby’s bedtime. I pick up short-term projects that I know I can complete. I am blessed to have a supportive husband who doesn’t falter to watch the baby so I can travel to speak at an event. For me, work means choosing the quality of assignments over the stability of a full-time job. Work means doing enough to feel fulfilled, while also continuing to learn and share my knowledge.
I also love my son. I love watching him grow and explore. I feel blessed to be able to be there for him when he finds something new to put in his mouth that he shouldn’t or do something for the first time.
Becoming a parent, and the weeks leading up to it, made me reevaluate how I defined myself. I was worried about what would happen if I was no longer part of the corporate world. But I shouldn’t have worried. I created my own “corporate world” that works for me. I’m grateful to the people I’ve met along the way who work with me. I think it’s awesome how supportive fellow professionals are when I tell them I have a baby boy.
I learned that I haven’t become less valuable, less knowledgeable. In fact, the opposite. Becoming a mother gives me a whole new perspective on life. It gives me new challenges to solve and other ways to think about things. I am still a knowledgeable professional but I am also proud to be a mom.
While I’m not climbing the corporate ladder per say, I am making my way around the mountain. Work is writing, researching, advising customers, and speaking. Work is going to VR meetups and staying engaged with people in my network.
Work is knowing when to hit “pause” and close my laptop when naptime is over. My son is sitting in my lap, trying to hit the keyboard, as I type these last sentences. I don’t mind. My work here is done.