Working mothers often struggle with various degrees of guilt. As a working mother, I’m not completely immune. However, some of the best advice I ever received was from my children’s preschool teacher, Peg. One morning while I was dropping off my daughter at school, I lingered a bit longer than usual in the doorway, teary-eyed because I was heading into a trial and would be gone a few days. Peg politely, but authoritatively, backed me out the door. She looked me straight in the eye and told me there are millions of working mothers doing a great job raising their kids. She then added, “Why on earth would you ever feel bad about making living for your family?” I’ve repeated that story to many working mothers over the years and it seems to resonate every time I tell it. Working hard not only provides great opportunities and experience for my family, but I’m setting a great example for my children (boys and girls) that if they work hard, they have a right to dream big.
Several years ago, one of my direct reports came to me in a panic. She was pregnant with her first child and was convinced that she could not be a good mom and succeed at work. After listening to her definition of a good mom, it was clear that she had one particular vision of what qualifies someone for that status. I told her to broaden her perspective because good mothering comes in all different forms. I told her she can be whatever kind of mom she wanted to be; she doesn’t need to follow a stereotype. Her panic lifted as we continued to speak. Now, two kids later, she is an excellent mother with a successful career. She’s told me often that she has repeated my advice to many expecting and new working mothers.
As a working mother, I often have people ask me how I get everything done. My answer is that it’s about constant prioritization and re-prioritization throughout each day. I have a lot of balls in the air, but I know which ones are glass and cannot be dropped, but I also know which ones are rubber, will bounce, and be caught on the way back up. I have so much respect for all mothers, working or non-working, who are working hard to raise the next generation of extraordinary contributors.
How has education affected your career?
At both universities, I was fortunate to have great teachers who focused on critical-thinking skills necessary for success in almost any field. I’m a firm believer that you can do anything with a law degree.
Is there a role model who has had a profound impact on your career and/or life? What did he/she motivate you to do?
My parents are great role models. They made education a priority and lived our family values of hard work, integrity, accountability, and service. My husband is also a great role model; he is in a completely different line of work and he always adds a fresh perspective on almost any topic.