Our interview today is a continuation of the conversation we began last week with 4word women Courtney and Meghan about making the transition to motherhood. Courtney is currently a full-time mom to her six-month-old, Ethan, and Meghan’s first baby is due in early August. We recommend that you read Part 1 of this interview and then continue on below.
4word: A couple of weeks ago, Diane blogged about the Hilary Rosen/Ann Romney controversy over working moms. She said that instead of getting angry over the issue, we need to be able to separate our own choices from the greater discussion and lovingly support one another. Do you agree? Why/why not?
Courtney: Yes, I agree. We should focus on our own choices because that’s ultimately what’s important to us. However, we need to respect the choices made by others, especially since we can never fully know or understand why others have made the choices they’ve made or what they must endure because of those choices.
Meghan: I completely agree. There are challenges whether you’re a stay-at-home mom or work full time, and everything in between. Many women are not able to stay at home for financial reasons. Women who love their careers choose to go back to work because they enjoy it and that doesn’t mean they love their children any less. I think it’s important to make your family a priority no matter what decision you make. We can all be better moms by supporting one another, knowing we’re teaching our children as they observe our interactions with other women. Hopefully every mom is able to make a decision that is best for her and her family.
4word: Courtney, what has been the most difficult part of your transition from full-time career to full-time mom?
Courtney: The most difficult change is being “on-call” 24 hours a day – every day! I’ve had to learn to regularly sacrifice my needs and desires in order to put Ethan’s first. As a full-time career woman, I was able to regularly disconnect from work either at the end of the day, on the weekend, or during vacation time. However, that’s not an option for me as a mother. The job never stops.
4word: Meghan, as you are preparing for your own baby’s arrival, is there a work/family decision that has been particularly hard for you?
Meghan: I am due with my first child on August 7th. I really enjoy my job and the people I work with. I’ve made the decision to go back to work on a reduced schedule, but it’s been hard to finalize that decision because I don’t know how I’ll feel after I have the baby. My life will have changed dramatically. I am blessed to have the opportunity to return to work a few days a week which will give me an opportunity to ease back into work. I’ll also be able to do some work from home in order to spend more time with the baby.
4word: What advice would you offer to other women who are facing the same decisions about how to balance their careers with motherhood?
Courtney: In my opinion, it’s imperative to determine what’s most important to you and what brings you sincere fulfillment and prioritize those things as much as you can. Focus on what will make YOU happy versus what other people have done or what they believe is best for you. I also suggest that you be as creative as possible. If you desire to work full time as a mother, determine what type of scenario will enable you to balance your priorities and work backwards. That is, develop a strategy that starts today and helps you position yourself for motherhood on your terms. That might include researching and pursuing more flexible work options through your employer or adjusting your career path, so that you can be in a better position to determine your work schedule later on.
Meghan: I would focus on making the best decision for your family. There are a lot of different situations that you may find yourself in (and they will constantly change as your family grows), and we shouldn’t feel guilty about our decision to go back to work or stay home. I would encourage women to support one another and get advice from other women who have had to make similar decisions to understand the decision-making framework they used. It’s important to remember that as women we will have on and off ramps throughout our career. Also, it’s ok to slow down sometimes.
And what about you, readers? Have any of you made the transition to motherhood? What’s one piece of advice you’d like to offer to the rest of our readers? Leave it in the comments. For Diane’s perspective on navigating seasons of change in your life, be sure to check out Chapter 16 of Work, Love, Pray.