All moms work, whether it’s paid or unpaid, full-time or part-time, inside the home or at the office. This article is part of a series of interviews we are conducting with moms who are in various types of professional roles. Making room for both motherhood and a job can be a difficult balance, so we’re inviting you to share how you make it work.
1. Tell us a little bit about yourself. What do you do? How many children do you have?
I have been married for two years and have one joyful, rambunctious, fast 12-month-old named Damian. I work at a pregnancy resource clinic in Dallas as the Director of Development (fundraising).
2. What do you find most rewarding about being a mother?
I’m a huge sap, so I adore when Damian comes to me for comfort. But I think I’m most touched when I see something click for him — when he realizes that he can turn the page of the book himself, or when he recognizes that the song I’m singing means bedtime and he starts to snuggle.
In those moments, you see how these little humans are constantly growing and learning and their minds are always getting sharper and stronger. And it’s beautiful because they were doing that in the womb, too – learning to suck their thumbs, to swallow, to stretch. Babies are such wonders.
3. What is one way that you’re making your job at the clinic work for you, as a mom?
I’m the director of development at a local pregnancy resource clinic where I used to volunteer as a counselor. I work at the clinic Monday through Thursday from 8-3PM, and then I work from home on Fridays.
The pregnancy clinic has a nursery, so I actually bring Damian to work with me every day. There are two other babies in the nursery with him.
I realize how unique this situation is, and I do my best not to take it for granted. I worked in a conventional full-time role until Damian was 6 months old, and it was really, really hard for me. I liked my job, but as soon as I had Damian, I really felt a pull to change paths.
I knew I needed to work for my family, but I wanted to do something that changed Damian’s life. I absolutely love bringing Damian to work with me, but even more than that, I love that every single day, I am working on behalf of his peers — his future classmates, his future coworkers, his future playground buddies, his future spouse. I really do think of it that way. It motivates me and helps me to be intentional with everything I do while I am at work.
I have tons of visits with people over coffee or lunch and provide a lot of tours, so I’m really active while at work, and I enjoy that. But sometimes I feel like my brain is running a million miles an hour and my body can’t keep up. So I go to our little chapel in the clinic and quiet my heart and remind myself of who this work is for. And then I can go snuggle with my baby to recharge. It’s amazing.
4. Do you have any advice for a working woman who’s pregnant and trying to decide what steps to take next in her career?
I think the most important thing is to remember that there is no right or wrong. Every family has a different solution in terms of whether the mother works or stays at home or does some combination of the two.
That was something that I really struggled with, especially in my former job where I was working full-time and dropping Damian off with a nanny everyday. It is really easy to make yourself feel guilty and tell yourself that you’re doing something wrong, especially in this age where opinions are everywhere.
The messages are so mixed: You need to work to take the pressure to provide off of your husband. You need to stay at home to be with your child during the day. It’s suffocating. Give yourself time to figure things out with your family and discover what works. I tried something, it didn’t work, and now I am beyond happy with my current situation.
Nothing is set in stone. Be patient with yourself. You might go through a period of real struggle and difficulty – I definitely did. But use that period as a stepping stone to figuring out the balance you and your family are looking for. “Ok, so I am unhappy with this situation. What are some changes we can make to make to improve it? What are some alternatives?” It’s important to ask those questions.
Know, too, that becoming a mother involves growing pains — sometimes intense ones. Don’t assume that being stressed or overwhelmed means you are doing something wrong, or that you need to make some drastic change. Sometimes those feelings are a product of the big transition you just made, and that’s okay.
I would also strongly encourage openness with your spouse. It’s easy to make it seem like everything is okay because you don’t want to look weak or stress out your partner. But your spouse doesn’t want you to be miserable, and this is a learning experience for him, too. So be open and honest and share some of the burden. For single working moms, find a confidant that you can turn to in those difficult moments.
Because let’s face it, other people see the beauty in what we’re doing much more readily than we do. Let them show you!
5. In your opinion, what are some of the qualities that make a family-friendly employer?
I am now the biggest advocate for onsite childcare, and I would say by far that is the number one thing employers could do to be family-friendly. I know it is expensive, but it would be a huge retention tool.
I wonder how much talent and brilliance the workplace is missing from moms who wish they could work but can’t afford childcare or don’t want to drop their children off at traditional daycares. Onsite childcare could solve a huge need, both for companies who lose employees when they start families and for families who are looking for something different.
On a smaller level, I think it is so important for managers and leaders to understand the dynamics of the working mom (and dad, too). Every employer knows that family should be the priority. So instead of making life difficult, be adaptable and understanding. For one thing, I guarantee that the employee will work harder. But it will also create a positive and transparent work environment.
I am really blessed with a boss who has a son just two months younger than Damian, so he understands and is happy to give me the flexibility I need to be the best mom I can be. When I need to slow things down to spend more time with family, he gets it. I’m also surrounded by a pro-life community that adores and wants the best for Damian, and that affirms and encourages me every day.
6. Anything else that you’d like to share?
For any moms who feel stuck and want a change, I really encourage you to get creative and think outside the box. Whether you are working in a traditional setting and want to be home more or you’re a stay at home mom and want to work, there are so many ways to make it work for your family. I am always amazed at how creative moms are as they try to find this balance.