Gratitude and Indignation

I’m not one to get emotional at work. It’s just not how I operate, not what I do. Part of it is probably that I never really cared enough to really get worked up.

But this week, during a 1:1 meeting, I was in the middle of telling my manager how much I appreciated her flexibility with my schedule, when I noticed my eyes tearing up.  It was so unexpected that it caught me completely off guard. I had to look away and compose myself before continuing.

I hadn’t realized how much pressure I was under…pressure to prove myself, pressure to adjust, pressure to ramp up quickly. This is all in addition to the fact that I work shorter hours,  arriving later and leaving earlier than everyone else because I’m a mom.

And the more I think about it, the more conflicted I feel. This is the first time I’ve worked with someone who has been so understanding/flexible with me. So, obviously, I’m grateful. Very very grateful. But beyond that, I feel so much guilt about needing this flexibility, that naturally, it turns into anger, or more accurately, indignation.

I’ve been really stewing on this a lot this past week. It’s not directed at any one person, but at the situation overall. As moms, so much of the burden responsibility of parenting falls on us. As a working mom, in order to work at all, you need a job that allows you a considerable degree of leeway. As a person who prides herself in her ability to perform, it’s been a hard adjustment, knowing that I can’t do what everyone else does. I feel like I have to work harder and faster just to match everyone else who is there 8am to 5pm. I scramble from meeting to meeting,  fitting in everything before I have to rush home. And while working through lunch or after hours wasn’t requested of me, I feel that not doing so would cause me to fall so far behind that snickering and back talking would be inevitable. Maybe this is all in my head. Or maybe more moms deal with this than we recognize.

But there is seriously something broken about our country if moms struggle this much just to lean in instead of opting out of the work force. Is this level of stress manageable and sustainable?

Ollie just turned one. What happens when he’s older, in school, and needs help with homework? Then where do I find the time to fit in all this after-hours work?

There has to be a better way.

I’m hoping this is temporary and things get better. Much like the first few months of infancy, maybe we’ll turn a corner and I’ll find my footing and this will all be a breeze!

Until then, working moms really just don’t get the credit they’re due. But I am, of course, biased.

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