Recently, I have been lucky, happy and proud to feel like my support of working moms is getting recognized and my message is getting spread more widely.
I was lucky enough to not only be invited to the White House Summit on Working Families, but also to have a small speaking role, introducing the STEM panel, and having the opportunity to tell my story about how I came to understand that corporate culture needs to change in order to help more women succeed and thrive.
My story is pretty simple. I never set out to crusade for working moms and to change corporate culture. I wish I had that mission, but to be honest it all happened when I became a working mom, and was lucky enough to be able to call my own shots.
Before I had kids I assumed I would always “do it all.” I always knew I would have kids, career and that I wouldn’t skip a beat. I never even thought about whether it would be hard or doable. I just knew I would do it.
Then my son was born. I had not been able to find a daycare that I liked — or so I told myself. In reality I just could not bring myself to leave my new baby anywhere. It wasn’t only about not wanting to leave him, it was a physical reaction. As I’ve heard described by other new moms, it was a visceral reaction. I simply could not leave him at home. But I was not going to stop going to work or veer away from my career. So I just brought him with me. I was in the position at my company to make the calls, I just decided to “have it all.” Continue working, and have my new baby with me.
Then baby boy number two came, and I did the same thing. I made it work. My babies loved being in a sling and practicing attachment parenting while working worked for me. My babies didn’t fuss as long as they were in the sling and nursing on demand.
And as I was just doing what I needed to do to be a mom and continue to excel in my career, more and more women would comment on what I was doing. More and more people would be amazed, jealous, impressed, shocked, horrified. And really at the end of the day, what got me writing, talking and wanting to join the cause to help women succeed, help women get in leadership roles and fight against women being “mommy tracked” was not the women who supported me, but the people who criticized me. It was those who wanted to perpetuate the idea that women belonged only as the primary caregivers of kids, and that no woman could have kids and excel in her career. In an early USA Today article I appeared in, a commenter said: “There is no such thing a mom who is also a CEO. Stop playing CEO and go back to being a mom, back to where you belong.”