It seems I blinked and a year went by. A year of family time, welcoming our second child into the fold. A year of doing a lot on a very little amount of sleep; eating one-handed while feeding children, folding laundry and setting up an art project with the other hand; learning how to cover spit-up stains with a strategically placed scarf; and appreciating every last second of it because, as everyone with kids likes to tell you, they don’t stay little like this forever.
In the weeks leading up to my return to work here at PFM Executive Search, people kept asking me if I was excited to get back to my corporate life. The question is always asked either trepidatiously because people worry I’m going to be very emotional about it, or sarcastically, assuming my “time off” has been so glorious that of course I don’t want to go back to “work”.
My answer to this question? A resounding, HECK YES (or some variation thereof). I am excited to be back. Of course there are all the appropriate reasons, like having adult conversation, flexing some brain matter that’s been left idle, and continuing to advance my career in an industry and organization that I truly enjoy. But as any parent who has spent an extended period of time at home with really little people will tell you, there are many compelling reasons why going to “work” is a luxury.
*During lunches, I will no longer have to negotiate the number of bites my dining companions must take before they can be all done.
*Going to the bathroom with no one else in the stall with me.
*If I want some fresh air, I don’t need to slap sunscreen on a wriggly toddler or squeeze an infant into their rain gear, then wrestle them into a stroller, then worry that they’ll eat dirt. I can just go outside.
*Pretty dresses that don’t need to be covered with splash guards.
*The use of multi-syllabic words.
Without doubt, there will be tears when I kiss my girls good-bye, and they will be mine. But they won’t be tears of guilt. A recent Harvard Business School study found that daughters of working mothers do better in their careers. Adult women whose mother’s worked outside the home before they were 14 grew up to earn more and have more responsible and senior roles. It makes intuitive sense. Regardless of what their role may have been – from house cleaner to CEO – those working moms made working outside the home and contributing to the family purse “normal” and something to aspire to. You wouldn’t be asking yourself “if” you’ll pursue a career but rather what your career will be. Of course, it just might be that if you have the option, your career of choice will be that of a stay-at-home parent. And you will be a stronger person than me.
I’m back in a job I love with a team of friends who happen to be colleagues. I’m also back trying to find that elusive “balance” and carving out time for my home life while being the best executive search consultant for my clients. There will be days when I’ll want to pack it all in and move to a commune in Pemberton, but for the most part, life is good. I’m a lucky woman, a lucky mom, and a lucky professional.