For the past five years, I’ve been keeping a secret. Actually, I guess you could say I’ve been lying—to a lot of people. Well, it’s time to come clean, so here goes: I’m a working mother. I have two young children, and with the exception of Monday, Wednesday and Friday between the hours of 9 a.m. and 3 p.m., I’m basically a stay-at-home mom.
Wow, it feels to get that out. Don’t get me wrong: People who know me know that I have kids. I’m not THAT good at keeping secrets. But people who meet me as a writer, who are on the receiving end of interview requests and questions about healthcare or history or business or whatever else I write about—those people have no idea. I always make sure to feign limitless availability and then scramble and yell for my husband to come home and watch the kids when a healthcare executive wants to do an interview at the exact moment preschool lets out. My new favorite way of squeezing one more “I’m available, I’m lying to myself and you about being a stay-at-home mom!” hour out of my day is doing interviews in my car in the preschool parking lot. It’s genius, really. I can make the call at 2:40, wrap things up at 2:55 and still have plenty of time to breathlessly sprint inside to avoid paying that $10-per-minute late fee.
I could continue to keep up this charade, or, you know, I could be honest and let these people, many of whom I’m sure have children themselves, know what’s up so we can work together to find a time that works for both of us.
Do I really think they’ll look at their email and see that they’re dealing with a mother of young kids and throw their hands up and say, “Hrmph, a working mother! I won’t give you this interview! You clearly don’t take your job seriously!” Yes, yes I do think that’s what they’ll say.
I have either wrongly assumed it or we as a society have agreed that mothers, especially those who have the descriptor stay-at-home in front of their names, couldn’t possibly be as good at their jobs as non-mothers.
But guess what? I’m really good at my job. This is me bragging about myself for a minute. When the people I interview, you know, the ones I’ve been lying to, see the articles I’ve written, they’re impressed. And that’s probably with them picturing me sitting at whatever they think a writer’s desk should look like. Can you imagine what they’d think if they saw how things really get done? I’d like to think it would change their minds a little bit about what it means to be a working mother.
Another reason I think I’ve been lying this whole time is that I’ve wrongly assumed that being a mother shouldn’t matter. And in a perfect world, it shouldn’t. But I can tell you and I’ve talked to many people who can tell you, there is a special set of challenges, expectations and assumptions made about “us” as a whole. And my failure to disclose being a mother just perpetuates all of it.
So this is me standing up for myself and standing up for working mothers everywhere. I’m a mother and I work and I’m really good at my job. Phew.