Dear Overachiever Working Mommy,
Hi. I think we both know why I called this meeting. Since you returned from maternity leave, things have been a little, shall we say, off?
For one, your co-workers have started openly avoiding your office for fear they’ll knock and be accidentally surprised by your exposed bosom hooked up to some sort of noisy contraption (#AwkwardWaterCoolerConvo). Which brings us to the drop in your productivity since you insist on pumping to help your son stave off the 19th cold in a row he picked up at daycare. I had no idea that your decision to nurse was going to take up so much of your workday, or that you would be called out to pick up your feverish, sniffling son so often.
And then there’s the 10 minutes a day you spend looking at videos of him on your phone . . . and the 10 minutes you spend showing those videos to your coworkers . . . and the 10 minutes you spend thinking about what videos you’ll take after work that you can watch tomorrow. Yeah, that’s a problem.
I know you’re still doing a great job for your clients. You would never let them down, but I wonder what kind of message it sends when they see you setting the organization-wide record for the desk-to-parking-lot dash the moment the clock strikes closing time.
Here’s the thing: Before that little guy came into your life, I could always rely on you to go the extra mile. Closing time? A silly suggestion. Committee membership? You started that committee . . . ahem, committees. Extra responsibilities? *Hand shoots up* “Me, me, over here!” Your work was done impeccably thanks to your compulsive drive to overachieve that has been in existence since . . . well . . . birth? You seem kind of
zombified tired some days. And even your wardrobe was better before. Like, way better. I don’t think I’ve seen you in real work pants yet, and it’s been months. And that mom bun speaks for itself (#TheSplitEndIsReal).
But the thing you might not expect me to say is: It’s okay. All of it. Your enthusiasm for sharing your joy about motherhood, your unwillingness to steal Christopher’s time with his Mommy for membership in an extra workgroup, and even your terrible, half-dried mom bun. It’s okay to balance your priorities and set limits around your time. It’s okay to admit that parenthood can challenge your energy, time, and even focus on other things, including work. And it’s okay to be scared to admit it for fear that your employer will consider you “less than” or lesser qualified than your kid-less colleagues.
Here’s the thing: I know you spent years training for this career and that this work is a true passion. I also know that you want to be a great example of working women for your son and for other moms. And that’s why I trust that you are still doing great work within the limits you set, so that you have the time and resources to do great work as a mom, wife, daughter, sister, and friend too. It’s cool. The research shows that work quality isn’t correlated with trendy, styled hair. (Although a trip to the salon couldn’t hurt, right?)
Unfortunately, working mamas do have to combat some motherhood stigma in the workplace. Even if it’s never the case, a colleague or two may assume that you’re one of the “less thans.” I’m not worried about you, though, because a sane, balanced mama is a sane, balanced employee, and that shines through in the work you do.
I know, I know, it kills you not to give 110 percent to everything you do, including work, but that’s just the thing. That kind of attitude will kill ya. You have my permission to prioritize. You also have my permission to buy some new work pants — just sayin’.
Your Regular-Achieving (but Still Kicking Butt) Working Mommy Self
P.S. Loved the video on the swing!