I thought this article and the thoughtful chat were worth a read. So honest and interesting. Props to Amy Beckett for supporting her family in so many different ways and working hard to get back into the legal field when the time was right for her. I particularly love Arlington, VA’s comments about how vital “off-the-books flexibility” is to be a successful working parent.
So to celebrate the mommy track’s birthday (check it!), I talked with my boss about needing to reduce my hours. Plenty of my co-workers (female, natch) work reduced schedules, and my boss is extremely understanding, but this was still a conversation I was totally dreading. Not because it felt like a failing or because of the salary cut (although that SUCKS), but because if he said no I wasn’t really sure how I was going to maintain my sanity.
I’ve been REALLY lucky during my time in big law firm world. After my son was born I came back full-time, fully expecting to reduce my hours at some point, but I got staffed on a huge case with some good responsibility and a safety net to support me. So I stayed on full-time, got preggers again, and had another lovely maternity leave. Returning to work full-time with two, though, has been a whole different ball game. (Parents of 2+ kids, you hear me!) There just are not enough hours in the day to be the mom I want to be and the laywer I should be to justify my rates (and, um, employment). And on top of the normal day-to-day craziness, we’re moving in 2 weeks (MOVING), every family member we’ve ever heard of is coming to visit, and I’m lucky if my husband and I can have a 10 minute conversation that’s not interrupted by a crazy kid or by me falling asleep.
And once again, I got lucky. My boss said cool. Just like that. He expressed some totally valid concerns (that billing less makes me less valuable on paper, and maybe a better target for layoffs, and that I’ll need to have some flexibility in my schedule to really make it work) but also said he’d support whatever I decided on.
So I guess I’m jumping on the mommy track now. Is that what this means? Who freaking knows. But I do know that I’m super tired of every conversation about motherhood being so loaded. Can moms do anything without being judged? I’ve heard it all (and sadly bought in to some of it before I knew better): that full-time working moms value their career over their kids, that they’re cold and distant, that they think a big paycheck is more important than spending time with their kids; that SAHMs are dull and baby-obsessed, that they wasted time and money going to school, that they’re putting themselves at financial risk, that they don’t set a good example for their kids. And apparently part-time working moms are “mommy tracked,” just kind of pretend-working, bringing home a dinky paycheck, and being semi-involved in their kids’ lives. It’s like there is no path a mom can take that doesn’t involve some judgment by society.
But I guess that’s just how it goes being a parent. A mom and dad scolded me at a park a few weeks ago for letting my daughter crawl around while kids were running near her. Really? It’s bad to let a baby crawl in a park with her mom two feet away? Sigh.
Anyways. I am determined to really give this part-time thing a shot, and to cut out the mommy guilt that plagues me every once in a while, and to enjoy all the SAHMs and working moms and whatever moms in my life with no judgment, and hope that they can do the same with me.
And that is not an April Fool’s joke. Speaking of: I apologize to my son’s preschool teachers for his “OH NO I pooped my pants!” joke. It was all his dad.