Pregnant and on the job: being Mommy VP

Link: New Debate Ignites on Maternity, Motherhood, and Executive Women

“We should all be congratulating Mayer on her new role and accomplishments and her pregnancy, not judging her,” says Debby Carreau, CEO of Inspired HR.

“If she fails, it’s not going to be because she had a baby, it’s going to be for other reasons beyond her personal circumstances,” says Jamie Ladge, assistant professor of management and organizational development at Northeastern University’s College of Business.

“I do wonder why we appear to discount other personal events in the lives of both men and women, such as impending surgeries, the need to manage a family of five, the need to deal with aging parents struggling with early signs of dementia, the tragic death (as opposed to a birth) of a child,” says Joseph M. Pastore, Jr., professor emeritus in residence at Pace University’s Lubin School of Business. “Somehow, the arrival of a newborn is seen as more demanding than the need, for both men and women, to tend, for example, to the lives of four adolescents.”

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Week 13 ultrasound tomorrow. If all is well, I’m out of the first trimester and will tell friends, extended family, and (gasp!) coworkers.

I don’t know why I’m so nervous about telling my boss and coworkers. It’s such a small company, and my coworkers either have kids in the school-age range (people at my level), or they won’t be having kids for a while yet (people I manage). I’m in the middle, just starting a family. I feel a bit oddball.

Will anyone understand my constant need to excuse myself from meetings to pee? Will people cast aspersions if I’m slightly more emotional than usual? Will people doubt my dedication to the job or the company? Will they pass judgment on various decisions I make? Will they be concerned about what my particular maternity leave means to the company, since I’m a high level executive, involved in business development and client management?

I feel rather alone in this. While I keep hearing about pregnancies and newborns on Facebook, these friends are either far away from me or more like acquaintances that close friends. How did others deal with telling their bosses and coworkers? Did anyone else work for a super small company at the time? Were you a high level executive at the time?


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Marissa Mayer

I’ve seen so much written about Marissa Mayer lately, not much of it helpful. A lot of speculation and polarizing opinions, not much about how it’s been working out so far (really well? not so good? how?).

I like the idea of women executives challenging the status quo in terms of what’s possible and what’s feasible in being both a successful mom and a successful high level executive. But do I want to be one of the women doing the challenging? Yikes! I wish someone else had already forged the path, I wish this was all figured out already, I wish the flexibility and options already existed rather than still being tested. I wish I had a lot of good examples and role models to work off of. But in reality, all I have as examples are:

  1. My mom, who worked in an era where you had to have a man’s approach to business to succeed in business, and ended up compromising some momness to continue being the household’s breadwinner.
  2. A former manager who woefully mismanaged her maternity leave, not preparing others well and therefore leaving us in a tough spot holding the bag when she needed to leave, and someone I saw struggle to balance life and work after she returned.
  3. A friend who eventually left her male-dominated job because of the demands and lack of flexibility, but stayed so long because she was the breadwinner and needed the income, therefore experiencing a very stressed and poor quality of life.
  4. A friend who moved to another company for better flexibility and benefits around maternity leave, but has since not moved up in her job responsibilities or title since starting a family. (This might be by her choice, though, and if so, more power to her.)
  5. A coworker who managed (and is managing) raising 3 kids throughout the 12 years I’ve been here, but is the wife of the guy who runs the company, and appears to have as much flexibility as she wants, by being available if needed (but not for anything urgent) yet not having to put in the 10 hours a day that other executives would.

So I feel like I have to be the one to do it well, be the Mommy VP, without any real-life examples from my own experience of other women executives who have actually done it well.  This makes me terribly nervous, that I am doomed to failure, that I’m not ready for this monumental endeavor of juggling.

But… the baby comes when the baby comes, eh?