Before I became a mother, I thought that I was devoted to my career. This meant working hard with my eyes on the prize: a job in a prestigious, competitive field. After a day in the office, I would come home and keep working: staring at the screen while mindlessly eating dinner, choosing work over watching a movie or going out. I worked every evening, every weekend, on vacation, and even on my honeymoon – thinking it would make me competitive on the job market.
I loved it. I was doing what I loved. I poured my heart into the work I was passionate about.
When my daughter came into the world, my devotion to my career didn’t change. In fact, I did more than in my pre-parenting life: organized high-visibility symposia at an international conference, published in esteemed journals, taught, did a prestigious fellowship. I didn’t do all this at the expense of my family. I somehow found energy and time to be both a great mother and a professional woman (minus the makeup). It helped that I had a supportive, loving partner, who is my best friend, biggest champion, and a terrific father.
It was very hard, but I still loved it. I was proud of my achievements, even though they came at the cost of self-care. But something also changed. Being a mother and a professional woman made me realize that I was an extremely accomplished individual. I realized I didn’t need to prove to others that I was a super woman. I already was one.
I cut back on working after work, not because I no longer cared about my resume, but because my time was now valuable. I was no longer a willing participant in a culture in which devotion is misconstrued as working selflessly with the hope that someone will notice and reward it.
Motherhood taught me that:
- being devoted to my career means choosing work that interests me, sustains me, and challenges me to grow
- my career is the mechanism to achieving my life's goal: to do important work and have an impact
- my career must sustain my life, not the other way around
- my career matters because I want to be a role model to my daughter
The following resoures and people played a big role in helping me change my outlook on my career:
- my peer-mentoring group
- going on a bunch of interviews and realizing I was more qualified than I thought
- this book: The Pathfinder: How to Choose or Change Your Career for a Lifetime of Satisfaction and Success by Nicholas Lore
- this article: How To Take Charge Of Your Career In 2016 by Liz Ryan
- this workshop: Salary Negotiation for Women