An open letter to working mothers (present & future)
In the 8-15 years after a woman graduates from college she’s likely going to hit one, two, or maybe even three major inflection points in her career: landing that dream job in a new city, coming up for partner or another major promotion, switching careers or industries, or maybe even going back to school.
Statistics also tell us she may have 1, 2, or maybe even 3 kids in that same exact window.
The collision of these personal and professional inflection points is nearly universal for women who have completed a college education. Yet, nearly every woman I speak with feels nervous, challenged, or just completely overwhelmed by the prospect of advancing their family and career goals at the same time.
Too often, they don’t go for that new job because they’re going to “start trying soon” and are worried about vesting for parental leave at a new company or even qualifying for unpaid leave. They’re not confident they can step up to the plate for a big promotion because they are pregnant or have young children. Switching careers, industries, or going back to school can feel logistically impossible given the financial burden of childcare or the “mental load” that women disproportionally carry for their families.
Here’s the issue: yes, there are a myriad of historical and socio-economic factors that have all compounded to create the wage-gap and create a set of unwritten expectations about women in the American workplace.
but it’s time to take ourselves off the bench.
When I speak to women, they say they can’t make that career move because:
They’re going to start trying to get pregnant soon (so let’s assume that’s a 6 month runway).
Then, they can’t transition professionally because they are trying and if they switch now they’ll never vest for parental leave at their next company or qualify for FMLA (let’s call that 3 months just to be conservative even though we know it often takes 6 months or more to conceive—especially if you experience miscarriages or fertility interventions).
Then, they’re pregnant for 40 weeks (which is actually more like 10 months than 9). Making a switch during pregnancy can feel unfathomable, though I’ve seen women do it as far along as 35 weeks.
Then, they feel like they can’t even think about a transition because they’re on maternity leave for 3 months. A time, I will concede, that is overwhelming, all-encompassing, defined by a total lack of sleep, and which flies by far too quickly.
Then, they ask me, how can they possibly think about making a career transition when they’re in that “survival mode” of just being back at work for the first 3 months post-baby?
Then, they don’t have the confidence or energy to make that next career leap because they’re finally getting back into a routine at work, projects are picking back up, and they’re just now feeling settled (let’s call that another 3 months).
…see where I’m going with this?
That is 28 months, or nearly 2.5 years per child, that women are keeping themselves on the bench. If you have 2 kids that is almost 5 years (half a decade!) of keeping yourself on the bench. Five years of stopping yourself from stepping up to the plate on your #SomethingMajor career moment… or possibly even 2 or 3 of those moments.
I promise you: you can do it.
Take yourself off the bench and you will be blown away with what you can achieve.
I had two kids in a span of 2 years and 6 days. In that time I achieved a promotion during my first pregnancy, changed companies while on my second maternity leave, and today I get paid double (literally double) what I made before I got pregnant for the first time nearly three years ago.
I am not lucky, nor is my story unique. I’ve gotten here with the mentoring of successful women who did it before me and with the continuous support of women who are in the trenches with me right now. I am in constant admiration of the other women I know who are not just surviving at work post-baby, but thriving. In true “shine theory” fashion, their peer-mentoring and friendship has been a source of immense inspiration for me…. and, at times, a lifeline.
That’s why I’ve devoted much of my free time since my first was born to paying that coaching forward and sharing my tactical tips for how to grow your family and your career at the same time.
This is a topic I speak frequently on and one of my most popular individual coaching requests. It’s also a topic that I’m absolutely passionate about.
Expect more content to come on this topic as I get my blog off the ground. Please email me your thoughts and questions in the interim.
Moms, you’re truly on the precipice of #SomethingMajor. Let’s get there.