She Says… Mom/Employee or Employee/Mom?

I have always been an incredibly driven worker. I would arrive in the morning, work my butt off, and run out the door as fast as I could once the work was done. I made time for office events and a few friends, but mostly it was work, work, work, as efficiently as possible. I am so fortunate to have a job that is driven by output and not by hours; otherwise I’d be twiddling my thumbs, since I am generally a very fast worker as well. I have to put in a reasonable amount of hours, but I’m not tied to my seat until a certain time, which is something I value so highly in my current position.

Going back to work with a baby at home, however, has undoubtedly increased my productivity and focus. Now that I know I have Owen’s little face to come home to, my productivity is through the roof. If I have 20 minutes to work during his naptime I can easily get an hour’s worth of work done. When I sit down at my desk in the morning in the office now, I write my To Do list and start checking things off before I even get my coffee. I don’t read blogs (sorry, friends!) or browse the internet or get on Facebook. Heck, I plan my bathroom breaks along with other office errands to maximize the time away from my desk. I’m happy enough to chat with my work friends, but even in 5 years I haven’t made friends close enough to tear me away from my work for lunches out or after work drinks.

Call me mean, call me boring, call me whatever; but it’s Owen’s (and Benjamin’s! and Schnitzel’s!) face I really want to see.

When I was little I used to dream of all the things I wanted to be when I grew up (other than a mother, which was a constant). A Broadway star usually topped the list. As I got older the list changed. An art therapist. An architect/interior designer. When I got my first “real” job as a Human Resources Assistant at a consulting firm, the list narrowed. As I worked on my Masters Degree in Organizational Leadership, it narrowed further. And now here I am sitting at a desk coordinating internal training, several rungs up the proverbial ladder at that very same consulting firm. It’s not my dream job, as my professional goals are still a bit loftier, but it’s satisfying, and I enjoy it. It allows me the flexibility to be both a mom and a professional, which is paramount in my life right now.

So having a baby may have increased my productivity, but it also decreased my drive for finding something new and better and the need to constantly challenge myself. I’ve never been one to “just be”. I’m almost always working on the next goal. But my priorities have changed.

I imagine there will come a time in my life when my goals will flip flop again. My career will take the front seat and being a mom will be so automatic that it runs in the background. I think. Although it’s hard to see that moment now, I bet that day will come. And in the meantime, I’m trying not to beat myself up for being boring, but rather to appreciate that I’ve worked hard enough to take a pause right now.

How did/will having a baby change your career path?

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11 responses to “She Says… Mom/Employee or Employee/Mom?

  1. Well, I was two years into getting my 4-year degree in Social Work and 4 months after our wedding we get the surprise that we’re expecting. I was later put on bed rest and had to drop out for the semester (thus making me re-take those classes). To shorten the story, I switched to Medical Assisting because I’ll most likely find a job sooner and will definitely finish school sooner. With a 1 year old, I’m ready to be done with school and adding more income to our family. My husband is pulling enough for us to survive, but that’s about it right now.

    But, I’m really pumped about my major change and hope to be done in little over a year! 🙂

  2. Moving changed my career path already (my master’s in political science isn’t worth much at a naval base in the middle of farmland). I told my husband that taking care of our daughter is my most favorite job that I’ve ever had 🙂 I decided to get certified to teach (almost done, just need the student teaching!) so I can have a job where I’m home when the kids are home and have summers off to do fun things with them.

    I’m shocked and appalled that you’re not reading blogs. I mean, if I don’t see at least 3 pictures of bowls of oatmeal eaten by other people, my day really isn’t complete. 🙂

    You’re still reading my blog though, right? Because it’s awesome? 😉

  3. I don’t haves kids, but I think about this a lot, as the time for having kids draws nearer.
    I currently work full time, but not in a position that is my “dream job.” I’m still working on what that is exactly! My husband is finishing up his MBA, and when he does, his company will probably transfer him somewhere. When that happens…because his transfer has a 90% possiblity of being somewhere rural (really rural, like….town in the middle of no where, population 8000, rural) I think we might explore the option of me being a stay at home mom, just because finding a fulfilling job in my field will be difficult to say the least.

  4. I love this post Kate. I’m on my third week back at my dream job (which I’m SOO grateful for) and I’m finding such complete satisfaction at the balance of working/mom/wife. It’s amazing how accomplished one can feel after a day of healing people and then mothering a baby and then wife-ing a husband (wife-ing, my newest verbage!). I guess since I am in a position where I’m totally happy, the only thing that a baby changed was my hours (working 3 days now…yahoo!). I wasn’t sure how I’d fare at the working-mom thing, but I’m really loving it, and i THINK it sounds like you are too 🙂 aren’t we lucky?!

  5. I’m trying to figure out how I’m going to manage going back to work after our little one is born. Right now I’m dreading my long commute back and forth to the office because it will be precious time with our peanut I’m missing out on. Hopefully we’ll move closer sometime in the near future.
    How did you approach work about your after leave schedule? Is it just the norm or was it your suggestion? I’m thinking about asking if I can work from home once a week or just do mornings or afternoons in the office and the rest of the day at home.

  6. I went back to work when my older son was about 20 months old, then worked for 6 months until I had my second son. I enjoyed being back at work, but things had shifted quite a bit – work was no longer the main thing I did in my life. It was just something I got done in addition to everything else. Then my now 22-month-old was born and I never went back, and never looked back. Those 6 months were fun, and someday I will be back in the workforce, but for now I love staying home with my kids.

  7. @Jessica, Yes, I am enjoying it so far. It makes me feel like superwoman 🙂

    @jvankirk, My work was incredibly open and flexible. My manager essentially said, “What would you LIKE to happen when you come back?”. I gave her my scenario (working Tuesday – Friday, and often from home so I can save commuting time) and she agreed. Even if the company had pushed back on certain things, I knew what I was willing to compromise on prior to the discussion. I know it totally depends on the company and the type of work, but my advice would be to ask for everything that you want, and don’t be afraid to suggest creative solutions. They just might say yes!

  8. Kara’s comment above cracked me up:

    I’m shocked and appalled that you’re not reading blogs. I mean, if I don’t see at least 3 pictures of bowls of oatmeal eaten by other people, my day really isn’t complete. 🙂

  9. I think there is something inherent to life as a woman to ask these questions about balance and to wonder about dual (or more) lives. I don’t know any men who struggle with these things. As hard as it can be at times, I’ve come to view it as a privilege to wander through these seasons of life.

  10. I imagine my priorities will undergo a similar shift. …… very soon.

  11. This was the perfect post for me today! This is the second week back to work for me since the birth of my babies 4.5 months ago and I too am grappling with the same feelings. After the birth of my daughter (now 3), it took a year to settle into the thought of climbing the professional ladder again. I was afraid that if I did, I would lose all the precious time I had with her b/c I “mastered my job” and was, like you, efficient. However, when she was a little over a year old, a fabulous opportunity came up at work and I was able to shift into a new position. Looking back, it worked out perfectly because her needs changed so much after that first year that taking on the new responsibilites did not affect my time with her. Now, however, having 3 kids has changed my thought entirely. I just want to do and be at work and be able to focus on my family…I don’t know if this will change but for now…the answer is no..and I am okay with it. My mantra right now is, I work to live, but I don’t live to work 🙂
    p.s. i just caught up on your blog since when i was home on maternity leave i never had a minute to read anything (yes, breastfeeding 2 babies is terribly complicated)…and your family is beautiful. owen is adorable and handsome and you and ben are glowing parents…congrats!!

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