Babies will ruin your career.
I remember standing in the banquet hall with my team. We had hit some really big milestones as a company and were celebrating.
Our executive director was making the rounds, pressing palms, etc. She came up to me and my team, congratulated all of us and then reached out to shake my hand.
She looked down at my growing belly in shock. (We didn’t see her often as she rarely ventured out of the “Ivory Tower” so my pregnancy would have been news to her.)
She looked back up at me, looked me straight in the eyes and said, “Don’t let that thing get its claws in you, it’ll ruin your career.”
No, she wasn’t joking.
I stood there, stunned.
I’d ruined her planning.
My direct supervisor, when I told her I was having a baby a few months prior, said “Oh great, you’ve ruined my planning for the year. I’m going to have to find someone else to manage your projects now.” She slumped back in her chair and threw up her hands.
No, she wasn’t joking.
I’d was stunned into silence then, too.
Was it luck of the draw?
I thought maybe I was just stuck with weird and insensitive leadership. But this wasn’t an isolated experience I heard similar comments from women in leadership when pregnant with my second baby nine years later. I heard other women tell me similar stories of how they were treated by leadership (particularly female leadership) when pregnant, or when their young children needed them.
I never understood it because these women, the majority of the time they were moms, too. Granted their children were older now, but surely they had some recollection of what it was like.
Don’t let that thing get its claws in you, it’ll ruin your career.
But it was an incident in my last workplace finally made me understand.
When special treatment isn’t special.
A woman put a formal complaint in to my director that I wasn’t scheduled for more than two 8am classes each week. She insisted that because she wasn’t given special treatment “25 years ago when I had a child in child care” that I shouldn’t be given special treatment either.
(Side note: the company’s HR policy dictated NO ONE got more than two 8am classes on their schedule per week… but apparently that didn’t matter.)
The complaint didn’t carry much weight, but she targeted me for several months with passive-aggressive abuse before she left for a different department.
We’re all in this shit together, so stop shitting on each other.
I know working women have always gotten the shit end of the stick when children become part of the equation, and often that shit is from other women.
I realized it’s because no matter how bad it is for us, it’s still better than it used to be, even though it’s still not good enough.
There’s a collective resentment and rage that runs through working moms for being made to choose…choose between work and kids, choose between friends and colleagues, choose between promotion and status quo.
It’s not fair.
And that’s one or several reasons why so many women leave corporate.
They are tired of having to hide their kids.
They are tired of feeling guilty when their kids are sick and need mom at home.
They are tired of feeling like they have to work ten times harder BECAUSE they chose to have a family.
They are tired of being made to feel like they aren’t a team player or ambitious enough if they have kids.
And so much more.
So they leave corporate, they leave the traditional workplace, and they become entrepreneurs because they want the freedom to BE moms AND be ambitious, badass, go-getters.
And they’re STILL feeling some kinda way about their kids being visible while they run their businesses…because it’s been drilled into us that kids cannot coexist with professional success.
Mama, you NEVER have to apologize for, hide, or diminish your kids when you are a badass boss bitch. Not on my watch. Not ever.
You deserve to stand firmly in both camps and run your ish the way you want.
And I KNOW how hard that is from a mindset perspective. We are conditioned to HIDE one of the most important aspects of our lives in order to appear…what? Professional? Competent? Committed?
And that is a big part of the work I do with women entrepreneurs… re-learning how to manage your motherhood, your badassness, and anything else you’ve been told you couldn’t have if you wanted to be successful. I work with you to undo all the damage the traditional workplace did when it told you what you could and could not have lest you be shamed, overlooked, gaslit, or more.
You deserve to have all parts and pieces of you where you want them, how you want them, and to see them as assets in the life you desire to live… not hindrances.
So yes, dear friend. Babies and business work just fine together.
We’ve got this.