This I Believe

Jennifer - Tampa, Florida
Entered on May 7, 2007
Age Group: 30 - 50
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I believe that one of the most inspiring, yet painfully challenging jobs in the world is that of “Mother”. I have two precious boys, ages 2.5 and 10 months. Since my first son was born, I have gone from a selfish, career-driven woman to a selfless, career-driven woman. The most difficult part of it all, was the decision to return to work, how to balance work and motherhood, and how to deal with the emotional and social battle about working while parenting.

I’ve been practicing law nearly 8 years. I don’t have to work financially. My husband and I could live comfortably on his salary. But I enjoy my job, and I feel confident about myself because of it. I worked hard in school and after graduation to get to where I am today. I graduated college at 20, law school at 23, and made partner at my law firm at 30. I feel I am an interesting person because of what I do. I hope that my influence makes people’s lives better. I hope that my influence in my industry makes my profession more honorable.

Before I went back to work after my latest maternity leave, I had a pit in my stomach, wondering if I could possibly do it, and pondering how I could possibly gain the strength to start the car and leave my little angels on Monday morning.

Little did I know that mothers who return to work are stigmatized! We don’t really fit in anywhere. Our mommy-counterparts commonly look down on us for “abandoning our offspring” and our male colleagues pity us, assuming we HAVE to work for financial reasons. So often people pat my hand and say, “Wouldn’t it be wonderful if you didn’t have to work?” I am not invited to the mommy play-dates OR the office happy hour, because I am trapped in-between worlds and don’t fit into either.

I know that on my death bed, I won’t say, “I ‘m the most proud that I went back to work when my babies were born”. But when my sons choose wives and discuss with them whether they will work, I hope they’ll take a broader view than society.

I hope to instill in them respect for intelligent and able women, to find studious, focused and articulate women attractive, and to have interesting and stimulating debates and conversations with women.

I once read that women criticize the decisions other women make regarding career because they are insecure about their own decisions. I harbor no resentment against mothers who stay at home. I envy them in ways, and maybe they envy me in ways. I think that mothering at home is a highly under-appreciated job.

But this I believe: Women can return to work despite the emotional and social nuclear war we face. I believe that loving to work is not loving my children less. I even admit to daydreaming about my baby’s precious toothless grin during a long deposition now and then. But when I get home and see that grin, I believe that he understands…now if only society would…