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Twenty Years Later… Coming to a Full Circle

2013-12-05 23.30.09

 

I had a very interesting revelation.  I am certain that I am not alone in this admission.  Twenty something years ago, I was starting out in my career as an energetic newly minted, confident professional.  I had recently married, kept my last name and was filled with boundless curiosity.  I was working five… six different jobs.  I loved being busy and being sought out in the community.  I was experiencing, engaging and absorbing everything like a sponge.  While building my career, I was really going places.

Just a little over twenty years ago, I decided to start a family with my husband.  I gave birth to a beautiful baby boy… a couple years later, another beautiful baby boy.  My life changed deliciously!  Life revolved around the babies… toddlers… young boys… teenagers… and now they are on the brink of young adulthood.  It is not easy juggling a career and a family.  Naively, I internalized a belief that I couldn’t have both.  I believed it would take longer to climb the career ladder.  I just wanted to be a good mom.

In the meantime, I worked to build my career.  I even decided to get my doctoral degree.  I always felt my family was my priority.  The longer that I believed that I couldn’t possibly do both; it seeped into my sense of individuality and confidence as a career woman.  Instilled with a belief that I had to put in extra time in my positions, be patient and invest in trainings to “earn” a badge before I was able to move up the career ladder.

In fact, I have come to learn that many women with families feel this way as well.  I marveled at the phenomenon that our husbands, partners or men in general do not hold themselves back as they progress in their careers!  In America, there are expectations, beliefs and behaviors that encourage men to assume leadership roles.  The men are taught to be ambitious and are expected to move up in their careers without having to earn badges.  Having families never seems to be an issue for men who are career-minded.  They were always a few rungs ahead of us and brought home the larger paycheck.  Hillary Clinton stated in a speech that women make 77 cents on a dollar and women of color make 67 cents.  How is that fair?

Twenty years later and my youngest son will soon graduate from high school.  Big changes are coming around the corner.  Of course, I am spending a great deal of time unlearning the old ideas.  Fortuitously, I am keener this time around.  I now realize I never needed the extra time to prove my earned badge, nor should I have felt having a family was a sacrifice.  I already know I am really good at what I do.  I also know that I am a good mom.  My hope is that young mothers realize that being a mom does not define your career identity.  Don’t be fooled into thinking you can’t have both.

I am rediscovering the old, confident me again and I am having a wild time!

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