Mother May I…Work AND Be A Mom?

Kathy Rapp Current Affairs, HR (& Life!) Advice, Kathy Rapp, Work Life Balance

After all the buzz about Yahoo’s new CEO Marissa Mayer not only being a WOMAN but also getting the gig when she is expecting, I thought I’d pile on with additional insight from ForbesWoman.  Forbes has “analyzed” the world’s 100 most powerful women based on a number of categories including that of being a mom.  I’m sure Marissa will be on the top of the list next year…..after all, Hilary Clinton is only the U.S. Secretary of State and Marissa is going to out earn her by oh, probably…$59,800,000, plus have a newborn.  Sorry Hilary.

The Forbes article quoted powerful women who talked about the difficulty of being a mom with a high-octane career.  Hmmm.  I’d argue that being a mom (period) is difficult – not to mention those of us who have low-octane careers and juggle it all with motherhood.

But this isn’t really the issue, is it?  All of this hype is more about those who believe being a mom should take priority over everything – including working, being a wife/partner, having a life outside of children VS. those who believe they can be great at it all – motherhood, career, loving wife/partner and all powerful woman.

Up until 20 months ago, I had a different perspective of powerful women.  I worked hard through my twenties and thirties because I loved my job as a HR pro, not because I had aspirations to be the EVP-HR at a Fortune 50 organization or because I didn’t want a family.  I actually really did want a child, but as time does it flies, and I was in my late thirties without the title of “mom”.  Thankfully, it wasn’t too late for me and as a new, working mom – I now get what “powerful” means.  As with my HR career the skills of prioritization, multi-tasking, doing more with less, relying on your team (co-workers, family, friends, those who want to see you succeed), and knowing when to say “no” are even more critical.  If you can do all of those things, you are powerful.

I will also say during my days spent at home with my daughter…I believe the “non-working” mom role is 10 times tougher and more strenuous for ME.  I’ve got the career thing down to a manageable mess, but 24/7 with a child(ren) is the stretch assignment I never had!

I do believe some women are cut out to be 100% mothers, some are more suited to 100% careers, and then there are those like me who are just trying to prioritize one day at a time depending on which hat is most important that day.  No one path is more important and no one choice is less daunting – – – and in the end YOU have to be in love with the choices you make or else YOU won’t do anything well.

So to those who want to argue who is more powerful or who should be held in higher regard – – just stop.  For those in HR, this is an issue we will likely never solve until perceptions of success in the workplace shift, but don’t give up.  There are organizations who, like Yahoo, can embrace a soon-to-be-mom CEO; and women like Marissa who get paid $60M to do it all and hopefully do it well.