Am I a Real Working Mom?

This week, a little shameless self-promotion. In case you haven’t seen it plastered all over the website, this Thursday (that would be October 18th), Mommy Track’d is co-hosting an event in San Francisco called New Formulas for Success (from 5:30-9:30 at the Mission Bay Conference Center). It’s supposed to bring together working moms for a chance to network and to talk about, well, being a working mom and all the challenges that come with it. There’s going to be a book signing (Notes From the Underbelly, on sale for $12.95!), but the main attraction is a Q&A with a panel of women who will be discussing “strategies that have helped them navigate motherhood and career.” I’m one of the panelists (and I’ll be appearing on ABC’s View From the Bay on Wednesday afternoon to promote it).

 


I wouldn’t exactly say that I’m nervous about doing this event. After all, I am a working mother and I have had several careers, ranging from full time to part time to no time, including experience in an office and working from home. I know I have stuff to talk about. But the other women on the panel are pretty impressive: a host of a top-rated radio morning show; a consultant with Levi’s; VP of Human Resources at Pixar; a solo lawyer who works for clients like Gap and Williams-Sonoma. These are real, no-joke, working mothers, and as I’ve been preparing for the event this week, I can’t help but feel that maybe I’m not quite worthy enough to sit on the panel with them. Now, before all of you lovely, encouraging Mommy Track'd readers go posting about how proud I should be of my accomplishments, let me just say that my, let’s just call it insecurity, has nothing to do with what I have or have not accomplished in my life. Rather, my lowly self-esteem has to do with whether or not I can truthfully call myself a “real” working mother. Or, to put it another, blunter way, it has to do with whether or not my job actually counts as a job.

 


I’ll be honest, I do think that writing is a job. It requires discipline, it requires focus, and most of all, it requires hours and hours of quiet time away from my children. But at the same time, it isn’t a job, at least, not in the way that most people think of jobs. I don’t have a boss, I don’t have set hours, I don’t have meetings that can’t be missed or clients that call me at all hours of the day or fires that unexpectedly arise and can be put out only by me. In my daily life, I consider those aspects of my work to be a huge plus. I’m lucky as hell, and I know it. But when it comes to sitting on a panel and talking about being a working mother, I have to wonder if those same aspects don’t disqualify me. I have to wonder if I’m not totally out of touch with “real” working women.

 

starlitek27
10.18.07

I, too, wonder if I count as a working mom. Sometimes, I feel guilty even receiving the Mommy Track'd newsletter! I stepped back from a part-time job (32 hours a week in a retail environment) and full-time graduate school to have my son. He's six months old now. Though I have not returned to work yet, I have returned to school part-time. Next year, I'll be returning full-time to school. I feel that I have to juggle just as much as working mothers, but do i count as one? I haven't figured it out yet.

kirstie
10.17.07

Well, I am a single mom with a just over 1 year old. She was 7 weeks premature. I work full time in an office with lawyers and we represent kids, mostly in foster care. I am not one to judge. If you have gotten a job that you love and that allows you more love and grace in your life, more power to you!

wksocmom
10.16.07

Of course you're not, too much flexibility :) Kidding, and I'm sorry I'm going to miss tonight, but I might get too insanely jealous of those jobs. Thank goodness it's martini mom's night out for me. I do admit frustration when a Thursday at 4pm was touted as "great for working moms."

Starry_Sky
10.16.07

I think you're bringing up a great point, which is that all working moms, or all working parents, or all people for that matter, do not deal with the same issues day to day. We have different jobs, different schedules, different energy levels, even different health situations and family situations. If we stay away from categorizing ourselves and trying to decide what is a "real" anything, and instead focus on the basic needs everyone has regardless of the situation (enough time, enough money, enough energy, good health, respect, flexibility, and other basics), we can find ways everyone can find their own way without feeling constantly like they are about to explode. Instead of thinking top-down and trying to meet each individual situation, we should think bottom-up and create a baseline we can all work with.

AmyF
10.16.07

Well, you do make money, don't you? I work full-time from home and my kids are either in school or daycare and then sometimes I put in more time in the evenings and on the weekends when my son is napping. I sometimes feel like I'm not a real working mom because I don't have the same complaints as other moms. I created and run my own business and I love it, so I can't complain that I hate my job. I am my own boss, so I can fit in a workout or a trip to the grocery store and I can sometimes get laundry done during the day. My husband is very involved with our kids after years of doing half of everything (sometimes more) when we were both working full-time out of the home, so running a household isn't my "other job." (I'm also kind of a slob, so I'm incapable of making my house my other job anyway).

So, my point...I know...sorry. I am a real working mom, but I know I have it way better than a lot of other working moms. And I hope you guys do a conference in Virginia or DC soon.

Amy
www.sofiabean.com

lady_rip
10.16.07

What would I give for a business trip away, while my husband takes care of all three kids, and the house all by himself!!!

As a programmer, I'm rowing in your boat... I work from home, as a consultant, on my own hours and my own terms. Unfortunately - my 6 month old doesn't understand "sleeping in" when I've worked until 2:30 in the morning, my 4 year old doesn't understand that she has to go to daycare while I go to work, at home, and my 2 year old can't comprehend "No playing ball in mommy's office!".

Kudos to you, my strong will woman!