If you were to take a glimpse at my LinkedIn profile you would see that I added, “Mom” to my work experience section. I also added this honorable title to my resume highlighting my new and unique attributes because it is the hardest and most complex role I have ever had, and it deserves to be on the same page that exemplifies all of my other abilities. I am an educator and business/positive psychology professional who is immensely passionate about what I do. More importantly, I am a mom juggling multiple roles and I am beaming with pride because my skills have been amplified on a massive level both personally and professionally after having our son. Why would I forgo the hardest working experience on a document that was created to present my skills and accomplishments? I made the choice to include my new role and I want other women and parents to not be afraid to follow suit. I want other parents to feel comfortable about expanding their families and be able to engage in supportive conversations with their employers to help facilitate this process so they can continue their professional path. Our professional landscape pushes the notion that women can have a career and raise their children but when it comes to discussing the accomplishments and experience gained from being a parent, it is omitted. The role of a “Mom,” or “Parent” is not as revered as it should be in the workplace, and I would like to call more attention to this disparity. Parents are not supported enough in their workplaces and by discussing the importance of the myriad of ways we can support our working parents; we simultaneously acknowledge that it is needed. Better yet, we need to acknowledge the insurmountable skills, patience, creativity, and empathy that has been gained after becoming a parent and get to work to make some real change in the workplace.
For this article, my focus will be on working moms because of the complexity of pregnancy, and postpartum, and the new reality for working mom’s post-pandemic. According to an analysis by the National Women’s Law Center of the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics report, “From February 2020 to January 2022, male workers regained all jobs they had lost due to the public health crisis. However, 1.1 million women left the labor force during that span, accounting for 63 percent of all jobs lost. While women gained 188,000 jobs in January 2022, they are still short by more than 1.8 million jobs lost since February 2020. Women are taking the primary roles of being caregivers. Some of those women want to go back to work and we have to allow a pathway for this.
Let’s shout through the rooftops the numerous skills moms have gained. They should feel as though it is an option to go back to work because their place of employment will support what they need. The fact that they are now caring for their children is not a hindrance but rather they have acquired highly transferable skills for the workplace. Women are feeling the pressure of not being able to pursue their professional passions because they are not feeling confident about the flexibility that is required or the emotional support needed from their workplaces. Industries and/or leaders are failing to see that mothers can become some of their greatest assets. Newly acquired skills that they possess are transferable in the workplace because a mother’s role is more work than any of her previous jobs combined. We are failing to honor the title of, “Mom,” and it is my mission to spread the importance of changing this.
The amount of love that grows inside because of a child results in the most expansive process that occurs in the mind and heart. Compassion unfolds more often, patience is tested and required on a more frequent basis because it often must be exerted which then results in more patience. Kindness prevails more often because it truly is the example, we want to be able to give our offspring. A mother’s fortitude grows tenfold after labor, after breastfeeding, after sleepless nights while raising a child, and keeping a home afloat while hormones are still trying to level off. Fortitude grows when a mother must remain strong when leaving them for the first time or when dealing with unpredicted tantrums that make ten more gray hairs appear. It is a constant balancing act. I have become a short-order cook, house cleaner, dog walker, meal planner, wife, a mother all while still maintaining my professional status as an educator because I love it so much, and there is no way that I am not growing my skill sets because of all of this. How can I not be growing mentally and emotionally? Those listed above are only a fraction of the assets acquired. Any Mom can tell you how she/they has become better because of having her/their offspring and our workplaces benefit from these emotional and mental assets.
Over the years as an educator, I have had the privilege of having students who are also mothers. In my business writing course, my students are required to submit a resume and cover letter. Some of my superhero moms have shared reluctance about telling prospective employers about the” five, ten, or 15-year break they took from work to raise their children.” They’ve shared reluctance about telling current employers that they want to get pregnant or expand their families. Or they fear that the lapse in time on their resume from when they became a mother will create hesitation for them to get hired. The exact opposite should occur. I want women to think. “I have so many more assets to offer, and I look forward to sharing my experience.” It has been proven to me by multiple conversations across a variety of both educational and professional spectrums that having children can be looked upon as a “distraction” and that the most “ideal candidate will not have time limitations.” Companies and/or industries and leaders must stop pushing this standard. Every good mother deserves accolades, acknowledgment, and the recognition that a big shift has occurred, a gigantic one in fact. If we do not support our moms in professional settings, those moms who are raising our future work talent, then we fail to see how this can have an adverse effect on our families’ future generations, and organizations. Those, “Moms” are the ones raising those who will one day be contributing to our workplaces. Shouldn’t this process start and end with support in the workplace?
When I shared the news with my boss and colleagues that I was pregnant a couple of years ago I immediately felt support. I have since then felt appreciated for the new parental role I carry, and I have had a boss who demonstrates in both his actions and words what it means to be a true leader because of his consistent support. He unknowingly brought me to happy tears after I told him that I was going to take eight months off after I had our baby. His reply, “you are taking on the most important role you will ever have, and it naturally will be your priority.” He then went on to share how important his family is to him and that this will not affect my role in any way when I returned. My colleagues have demonstrated their support in the most genuine of ways. They inquire about how our son is doing, request pictures, and are eager to share their pictures as well. Some of my colleagues attended our baby shower. I get to read books to our son given by my colleagues and share in the joy of their children and grandchildren. It is authentic, it is supportive, and I believe strongly that all organizations should foster this type of supportive dynamic.
My grave concern is that I know that my situation is a rarity.
Certain dilemmas are glaring down on organizations. Why is there not enough support offered for our moms who want to return to work? Why is there not enough support for our working parents? Let’s start with open discussions in our workplace and allow our employees to be a part of the change process. Let’s tackle the barriers and break them down with actionable steps. Let’s take directives from our moms and parents with their input and inventive ideas to get more support.
A mother’s work is planted within every aspect of her life and the 24-hour endeavor requires the finest act of multi-tasking that can be accomplished. When a mother goes to work, she is thinking about her professional responsibilities and a plethora of other thoughts that have to do with her child. The natural type of concern illustrates the type of care this person wants to dedicate to their child. This compassion, care, and consideration if shown appreciation in the workplace can spread into aspects within her job, to her clients, and to her colleagues. Every time an employer tries to make their employee feel as though the client, the sale, or the company is more important than her family, then we take the human element out of the equation. The reality is that mothers are in the workplace, and they bring value. If they need to leave early for a soccer game or to be there for a sick child, she is contributing to our humanity. It is a responsible choice that helps shape our next generation in a different way, a better way. When our managers and leaders take the time to ask about our families, our children, and our struggles we widen the trust factor in our organizations. We begin to look with a lens that is realistic and representative of our diverse professional population. We begin to empathize and understand the balancing act and we most importantly acknowledge and support this new change in the person’s life. Raising a human being is in fact, the hardest and most life-altering occurrence in one’s life and our organizations will be better suited with leaders who understand that.
I’ve pulled work all-nighters and have met unruly deadlines. I have worked 60+ hours a week and worked full-time while obtaining my bachelor’s and master’s degrees. I have worked all night and then had to fly across the country and not sleep (to accommodate the time change), and still, none of this compares to the work of a mother. A mother’s role does not have a switch-off moment. The role is all-encompassing and work deadlines will never compete with, this ever changing, completely exhausting, and wonderful role. I have grown mentally to meet the needs of our son is wonderful. It has required a heightened version of myself, one that knows that if I can tend to a crying baby, breastfeed, and all the other things mentioned above, then I really can do anything. Mothers are superheroes and can be one of an organization’s best assets.
I’d like to share how our son Paulo has not only enriched my life but how my skills improved. I have a widened perspective about mothers in my workplace, and my students who are balancing school while being a mother. I understand the mother who has taken twenty years off to raise her child and then go back into the workplace. I understand the mother who so badly wants to be there for every milestone but must work because it is her/their passion or because they must. I understand more because I have taken the time to have these important conversations. I have learned that I am three times more valuable to my employer post child not because I had a child but because I have chosen to better understand the skills that have grown because of having our son. I also think that the effort and time I am putting into raising our son will result in him being a better colleague one day, and a better leader one day. He will understand the value that mothers contribute to the workplace. He might be a husband or father one day and although I am not certain, I do know he will be working, and it is my hope that he is able to reap the benefits of the conversations that are started today for working moms and parents who need more support in the workplace.