Coming Clean About My Double Life… as a Working Mom

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working mom - Boston Moms

When I started a new job last December, I debated when, or if, I would mention to my colleagues that I had an infant at home. After all, I would be working remotely, with a team spread all over the country. I could hide in my home office (coincidentally, just off my son’s nursery), do my job, and everything would be fine. Sure, there were other parents on my team, but I certainly wouldn’t want them to see me, an all-business engineering type, with an infant on her hip, hair in a messy bun, and a cold coffee in hand.

As an engineer in a male-dominated field, I learned early that there were parts of myself I needed to keep away from work if I wanted to be successful. Even after having my son and officially becoming a working mom, I thought the best way to build my career would be to keep work and family as separate as possible. Working remotely made this even easier. Or so I thought.

So, I just… never mentioned it. That is, until COVID-19 happened.

I had been in my new role for just about three months, working from home half the time and on the road for a few day trips each week. My son had just turned a year old and was going to daycare every day while my husband and I worked. All at once, my travel was canceled, daycare was closed, and I found myself negotiating a full schedule of conference calls and sharing weekday toddler-care duties with my husband, who was also working from home.

The juggling was tough. Our days revolved around who had conference calls when — a perfectly timed relay race of toddler handoffs throughout the day, then a game of email catchup each night. This wasn’t sustainable; I needed the help and support of my team.

It was time to come clean and reveal my “double life” as a working mom.

This pandemic has certainly blurred the lines between work and home life, but in doing this, it has made working parenthood so much more visible. The kids-in-the-background Zoom call moment is no longer a meme but a reality. We’ve all seen it, and it turns out it’s not the end of the world.

Seeing that my colleagues, customers, and even executives were going through similar challenges made me realize I had nothing to be afraid of. So I let it happen. On our weekly team call, we share photos of what we have been up to, and I shared a photo of me and my son playing in the back yard.

There I was — working mom. Two parts of me, finally in one place.

As I started to be more open about my role as a parent, I was surprised at how much my colleagues opened up. My manager and other members of my team were in similar situations with their young children. I quickly recognized the hesitation I had wasn’t because I was ashamed of being a mother — it was because of a fear that I would be treated differently.

After so many years of feeling like motherhood would hold me back from career success, it turns out I was the one telling myself it would. Even a full year after having my son, I was still struggling with my identity as a new mother AND a working professional in a new job.

It took a pandemic for me to realize it was OK to be both.


 

1 COMMENT

  1. On my 1st day in a new position, a totally new role in the organization and one in which I felt the need to carve a place for more women the school nurse called. My heart stopped because I had 3 children in school and this was a rare event.
    She broke the news that there was a lice outbreak and it looked like child #3 was loaded !
    I spent a few hours in a tailspin while my husband retrieved her and I worked up the gumption to tell my boss that I needed a day off. Luckily we had worked together previously and once I mentioned lice he wanted to run for the hills but as a fellow parent he understood.
    I have never chosen one role over the other and am lucky enough to have had a spouse who felt the same. Whichever one of us needed to be with the kids made it happen and sometimes we even split the day when the pressure was on both of us to be away from home.

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