Being Honest About a Woman’s Work

????????????????????????????????????????Lean in (following these top 5 tips), don't plan to leave before you leave and don't think about maternity until you're actually pregnant.

Mothers can have it all (at home and at work) – as long as they choose the right type of partner.

Mothers actually can't have it all in their professional and personal life.

Mothers can be superwomen – but only sometimes.

Have you noticed that the mainstream media circulates “I'm a mom in the workforce and this is my experience” articles every few months? Here in British Columbia we read the pieces, share them on social media and read the next piece that's going viral. These articles are often written by women -usually from the USA – who are in high knowledge, white collar jobs.

Enter the personal blog. There is a need for more women – and we're already seeing these pieces online – to discuss their personal experiences related to these topics. Let's retweet and share their stories – not just the ones of women in jobs that don't always match what many women are experiencing in Canada.

While we're sharing and being honest online, let's also acknowledge that the private assessments women have about each other in relation to the intersection between motherhood and careers are often negative, rife with judgement and not mutually supportive. The following survey result hints at the lack of mutual support that women are offering each other on a personal and professional level.

Female small business owners say that support from other women in the business community is low. Only 4% say other women are their biggest champions. (Manta survey)

Here are some of the perspectives about women and the work that they do that are shared in private and professional circles:

A Woman's Choice is Always Wrong

Women are judged for not having children while mothers working at home full-time are referred to as lazy and unsuccessful. “Clearly women are not an interest group or an identity with only one set of goals. Yet no matter where women put their focus, they are criticized for not maintaining the perfect balancing act. It seems that the only infallible answer is that a woman's place is in the wrong. […] It's normal to call a woman neglectful for hiring a nanny, or lazy for taking maternity leave. It's normal to make wild assumptions about women as a whole, regardless of the wide variety of individuals that the female gender encompasses.” (Chelsea Welch, the Guardian newspaper. There is a seemingly endless list of comments after this piece. The mostly British readers rejected the perspective of the author and suggested her viewpoints are quirky and America-centric. Do you agree/disagree?)

Old School Conversations – Rarely Told But Revealing

{Life magazine, Special Edition, late 1956}: To be an American woman today is to be cast in an exciting challenging and difficult role. Exciting because the sky seems to be the limit in education work and freedom.

In 1967 women represented 14.8% of workers in the USA and earned just 60 cents on the dollar. There was no concept of family friendly workplace policies at the time.

{Zoomer (Slightly older than a boomer)}: From the mid 60s until the mid 80s I wasn't allowed to work in the same government department as my husband once we started a family. So I had to quit my job. When I was able to rejoin, I had lost twenty years out of my pension plan.

***

{Gen Y Journalist}: It was cool to do 100% of the work at home with a Doris Day smile when less than 15% of [women] were out there earning. [Now that women represent over 50% of the workforce]? Not so much. (Meghan Casserly, Forbes.com)

***

{Baby Boomer}: When I had young children in the 80s I used to hide my car seats when I went to interviews.

***

{Boomer, age 58}: Make no mistake, when your kids are young, it’s a tough haul. You’re tired; you’re constantly tired, constantly guilty. Guilty: am I doing enough for my job? Guilty: am I doing enough for my kids? For my oldest son—he was adopted—I had three weeks notice before I got him, and we had a new show. […] So, I had a baby, and we had already booked a kitchen renovation that ended up happening, but I was back at work within ten days. The stress level was unbelievable. When I gave birth to my second child it was superb. Three months mat leave, but I couldn’t do the full three months. After two months, I worked half days, because you can’t leave your live television show, you can’t do it. There isn’t anybody who can pop in and take over your job. (Chrissie Rejman, Senior Producer, Cityline, CityTV)

The Work Life Balance Schedule Is Grueling

{Friend}: Can we all meet up sometime?

{Father who works full-time outside of the home}: It's difficult right now. The children are getting older but still require a lot of help and support. I'm up early, commuting to and from work, come home, clean, get dinner done, clean some more, put the children to bed, watch a short show and go to bed early. Weekends are filled with chores and a few commitments.

***

{Friend}: What's your weekday schedule like?

{Mother who works full-time outside of the home}: We're out of the house early, commute through traffic and drop off at different schools. After work [in a high knowledge, white collar management job] we tackle traffic, dinner, homework, chores and bedtime routines. I've a few minutes to myself but sometimes fall asleep on the toilet. ;) On weekends we have a full schedule of children's events.

{Friend}:

Thinks: Yikes – no wonder I never hear from her. I'd say she's maxed out at 300%.

Some Mothers Are Lightweight

{Woman A}: Susan seems to be a devoted mum and now she's starting up her career again.

{Woman B}: She's never had a career.

{Woman A}: Didn't she used to have that job? And now she's doing this job.

{Woman B}: Her current job isn't a career job.

{Woman A}: Thinks: Wow. Right. Got it. Gee there are a lot of women in BC who are awfully busy juggling family and “non-career” obligations in that profession. Despite the ups and downs of the recession, many are making a lot of money in this line of work.]

Says: {Nothing}

SAHMs Are Happier Back In The Workforce

One in five (19%) of stay-at-home moms admit their overall happiness would increase if they worked outside the home. (Forbes.com)

{Zoomer}: Zara's really doing well in her new job.

{SAHM (Mom who works at home full time/Stay-At-Home-Mom)}: Yes it sounds great. It seems to fit in well with the children's school and home schedules.

{Zoomer}: She's much happier now that she's back at work. She was starting to get into a rut at home during the years she spent at home with her children.

{SAHM Mom}: Thinks: Yes. I've heard this “SAHM functions better when back to work” theory before. Something about “being at work and not at home all the time brings out the best in her.” Are you sharing this perspective about me now?

Says: That's great. I'm sure she'll do really well in her new position.

Some Women's Work Doesn't Matter

{Senior Management staffer and mother shares an audible comment to fellow management colleague during a SAHM's visit with her baby}: I don't miss those years.

{SAHM}: Thinks: My job was cut during maternity leave and you're implying that I'm dedicating my time to being a mother in years that are not worth remembering.

Does: {Smiles, ignores comment and directs conversation to others nearby.}

***

{Mom A on maternity leave}: Have you decided what you want to do after your baby is born?

{Mom B on maternity leave}: I will be off for a year on maternity leave. How about you?

{Mom A}: I'm not planning to take my full leave. I would go crazy being at home all the time. Sometimes I find I'm spending my days just sitting and staring at my baby. I'm going to hire a nanny to help out while I take on some contract work.

Hollywood Weighs in On The Value of a Woman's Work

More than 10% of stay-at-home moms regret giving up their career. 38% of stay-at-home moms feel guilty about not going back to work, and 13% even regret giving up their career for their baby.

44% of stay-at-home moms say their partner or others sometimes make them feel like they’re not pulling their own financial weight. (Forbes.com)

{Synopis of Modern Family (Season 4, Episode 21}: Claire is being grilled by a student on career day. The female middle school student is asking if she always wanted to be a mom who is at home full time. Claire replies that it wasn't her dream but she was happy to stay home and change diapers. This scene is followed by a small melt down in the parking lot when Claire declares that she's tired of sitting on the sidelines. After all – all of her children are well on their way in their school careers.

{Similar and Commonly Shared Comments}:

She doesn't work full-time or part-time. Her children aren't small anymore and are beyond the years when they rely on her a lot. Why doesn't she go back to work?

Yes she's a good cook and keeps a nice home. She seems to go out a lot with girlfriends – shopping and eating out. I overhead X say she's doesn't accomplish very much.

What could she work at now anyway after being out of the workforce for so many years?

SAHMs Have Too Much Time on Their Hands

{SAHM}: We're trying a new healthy eating plan combined with HIT (high intensity) exercises.

{Retired and previously a non-SAHM}: Diets are fad. They come and go.

{SAHM}: It's a nutrition plan. It's not a diet. We have to cut out grains for a few weeks to see if there are any sensitivities. We're already noticing improvements in ourselves and one of the children. It takes a bit of planning to cook the meals from scratch without relying on grains.

{Retiree}: Who has time for that?

{SAHM} Thinks: Right. Yes. I forgot. I have time for this because I'm not working outside of the home full time. Are you suggesting that cooking health meals from scratch is a luxury for women like me? No I'm not being sensitive…

Says: {Nothing}

A Career-Break Makes a SAHM's Resume Go Stale

44% of stay-at-home moms anticipate returning to work full time at some point in the future, while 38% are not sure. Of those who plan to return to work, almost two out of three (65%) worry that the economic climate will make it harder for them to find a job. (Forbes.com)

{Woman A}: Well if money gets tight you could always get that type of job.

{SAHM}: Thinks: What did you just say? Have you seen my resume? How does that job – which requires a fraction of the work and educational experience that I have – fit my career profile? I did work before I had children.

Says: {Nothing}

***

{Woman A shares tips and advice with Woman B. Woman B knows this information because it is part of her professional work experience and educational training.}

{Woman B}: Thinks: What is it with people.? As soon as you take a break from working to be at home, they forget that you ever worked or that you have professional experience. Do I have to drag out my resume and diplomas? Maybe it's best if I preface my reply with “based on my professional experience”.

***

The most important content on your resume is what you've done in the last six months. If you have been out of work for more than six months you will be passed over by hiring managers.

{SAHM}: Well that's interesting isn't it? They might not be interested in my work at home, but I have been in unpaid volunteer positions in the community. Doesn't this experience matter? I've been out of a job for a few years now. What are they going to say about that?

You might have to work part-time or take what you can get. Plus you're not getting any younger. You're going to have to compete with the under 35s who are eying up the jobs that Boomers will be vacating.

{If this is your situation check out this piece and this one too. Good luck!}

Embrace The Choices That You Make

{Boomer, age 58}: What you have to look at is the overall picture. […] If I could encourage women to do one thing: Don’t beat up on yourself! Nothing is perfect. Everybody’s got terrible choices to make, but once you’ve made your choice, just go with it. Stop apologizing. Don’t apologize. Yes, you make mistakes, everybody does. Women who stay home make some mistakes; women who go to work make some mistakes. But choose what you want to do, and if you have joy in it, if you truly have joy in it, I think it’ll all work out. You just have to embrace it. I’ve stopped apologizing for the choices I’ve made a long time ago, and I’ve certainly made mistakes. (Chrissie Rejman, Senior Producer, Cityline, CityTV)

You can comment about this posting using the comment function below or by visiting the BC Family Facebook page. Your opinion matters so don't be shy!

Related

Pew Research about mothers who work outside of the home.

Washington Post article about the “Mommy Business Trip”. Who knew?

Has everything been said about modern motherhood?

Help! My Co-workers have ditched me since I returned from maternity leave.

What it's really like to be a SAHM.

What it's really like to be a working mum.