“Mom, why don’t you pick me up at carline after school like the other moms?” my five-year-old asked.
For a moment, his words sting and stoke my working mom guilt. Just as I’m about to internalize it all too quickly, I look back at him and realize that he is not passing judgment on me or indirectly asking me to stop working. He is just a curious kindergartener.
For women who work because they want to or because they have to, we owe it to ourselves and our children to stop thinking of motherhood and career as a zero-sum game. I am leaning in to focus on the ways that being a professional makes me a better mom, and the ways that being a mom makes me a better professional.
When work took me to London recently, I redeemed some saved up miles and took my son with me. He sat at the desk of Cherie Blair while I met with the team of her foundation to discuss an innovative mobile application for women entrepreneurs. At his age, my son may not have absorbed much of the substance of my meetings that week, but he did learn to interact more confidently with grownups, sit quietly for a few hours at a time, and above all, see his mom enjoying her work.
I hope that is just one of a host of opportunities I’ll have over the years to share my work with my children. I believe if I am proactive and creative in integrating my work into my children’s lives, my career can enhance their development and our relationships.
I also believe that becoming a mom has forced me to be efficient and organized on whole new levels and that these and other abilities I’ve had to hone as a mom make me more successful in my job.
Perhaps more than anything, the perspective I have gained in becoming a mom makes me feel more driven than ever before—not at the expense of my children, but because of them.