When my daughter was born and I was presented with an opportunity to go back to work, I knew there was no way I could turn it down. I was suddenly compelled to set an example for my daughter as a successful working mother in a way I had not been while I was home with my son for two years. I wanted to be “that kind of mother” who gives her the freedom to make her own choices, while continuing to break glass ceilings and forge work-life balance to make her path just a little bit easier (as previous generations have done for me).
I’ve since realized that “successful working mother” is a loaded goal. I am successful at work, yes. I am a professional, working at a reputable national law firm. I have a salary that allows me to take home six-figures even after egregious federal, state and New York City taxes. I have awesome family health insurance paid for by my employer — and it even includes dental. The “successful working” part rings true.
As does the “working mother” part. I am grateful to have a job that respects my priorities as a mother. I have not missed a phase-in session, orientation or smallest event at my children’s school and none of the partners I work for have blinked an eye. They trust that I have a handle on the work that needs to get done and they leave me to do just that (my associate co-workers are another story, but I’m ignoring them).
But “successful working mother” implies that I’ve got it all under control. That, while I wish I spent more time with my kids, I have negotiated drop-offs and pick-ups around conference calls and late night loan document distribution. But this simply isn’t the case. Every single day is a negotiation. If I have deals closing, Ian needs to do more at home. If he has an important client meeting, I offer to take the kids on the morning he’s supposed to do it. For the most part our schedule is utter chaos. Continue reading