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.