Dear New Professional Working Mom,
I want to tell you my story. Seven years ago, I felt lost and confused. As a new mom and a full-time attorney, I was pulled in two very different directions and, as a result, I often felt I did neither job well. Days and nights were a blur. My house was a mess in a way that mirrored my scattered thoughts. We were surviving, but no one was thriving. I knew I was not alone, although often I felt no one had the unique work-life struggle I had.
I was a prosecutor, handling cases involving child abuse and sexual violence. My husband worked from home, creating a constant feeling of envy and resentment. Our rambunctious son made the few moments of quiet feel like we were only in the eye of a hurricane. The calm passed quickly at our home, making way for fits of chaos and confusion.
Fast-forward nine years. I still work. My husband now works 60+ hour weeks outside the house. We have added two more children to our mix. And yet I am so much calmer. So much more at ease with balancing work and motherhood. My house is cleaner, my thoughts are less scattered, family time is more peaceful. And most importantly, I would venture to say, we are thriving.
What changed? We got a housekeeper. That certainly helped. I still work with child abuse victims, but now I am a writing professor dabbling in child welfare issues. That certainly helps, too. But I think the change has less to do with my circumstances, and far more to do with my mindset. As a new mom, I resented my law degree. I resented the responsibility and the expectation it placed on me. But for the first time in a long while, I am grateful to be an attorney. I am grateful to have a profession. Perhaps having three young children made me better understand that I am good at lawyering. I am good at teaching. Being a stay-at-home mom? I now know I neither enjoy it nor am good at it. And for the first time in a long time, I am learning that this is OK. I tip my hat to stay-at-home moms. It is a much harder job than mine. It is such an important job, but so is mine.
New Professional Working Mom, it gets easier. You worked hard to get where you are professionally. You will have to work hard to get to where you want to be as a mom. The nice thing is, motherhood is a book, not a single chapter. While this chapter might be the hardest you'll ever get through, the scene will change. Pour yourself a strong cup of coffee, find a comfortable spot to rest your tired feet, and read on. I promise, while new questions may appear, your own truth will unfold.
With love and respect,
Stacey “Experienced” mom, law professor, photographer, and friend