I think there’s this general perception that, like Pam said, “motherhood makes you so soft.”
And in some ways it’s true. I’m not a big movie-cryer, but any commercial involving a baby? Tears. Pictures of refugee children feel like a sucker punch. Misogynistic memes make me irate, and even as a teacher, I noticed just a different kind of lens when I was working with kids: all of a sudden, how much they liked their teacher meant how comfortable they were in school everyday, and that meant more to me once I could imagine if he or she were my child.
*Teachers without children also do this. It just didn’t happen for me until I had one. Because, frankly, I’m a little insensitive.*
But, yeah. Motherhood made me kinda soft.
Actually, though, I don’t think this problematic, at all. I think it’s certainly portrayed as problematic: I mean, how can a woman possibly concentrate at work if she’s just thinking about babies all the time? How can a woman possibly be as productive if she has to take off for prenatal or child doctor appointments? How can a woman possibly make RATIONAL DECISIONS WITH ALL THOSE BABY MAKING HORMONES CLOUDING HER BRAIN?
Of course she can, because those assertions are bananas. But, just to lay it out, I want to share with you the things I actually got better at since having a kids, especially as they pertain to work productivity and, well, being a better human being.
- Multitasking. You betcha. I can carry on a conversation over text, write an e-mail, file an insurance claim, and change a diaper almost simultaneously. I mean, not really: but I can do each of those things with amazing efficiency because…well, I have to.
- Punctuality. Yeah, no- not to everything. But over the past year or so, I’ve learned to either tell people an actual realistic time of when I can be somewhere and for how long, just not make plans in the first place, or start to the process of leaving at least 45 minutes earlier than I think I need to. I probably could have been doing these things for the last 15 or so years, but as it happens, it took being responsible for 3 tiny humans to get me to actually do it.
- Meeting deadlines at work and in school. Because I know I absolutely cannot get any work done during the day when I’m at home, I know when I need to work and how much I need to do when I have the chance to do it. I know to schedule those times in so I can get things done, and I know to drink that cup of coffee at 4 p.m. so I can stay up late enough to do them. I’m not saying it doesn’t get stressful, but I definitely got better at managing the little free time I have to get non-parenting things finished.
I write this because I know between my own experience, and that of my friends, balancing work and kids is a challenge and it does change you: but not for the worse. Valuing women in all of our spaces- the house, the office, the playground, the Senate, wherever- is important for all of us, and will only make a better a place for our sons and daughters. So keep up the good fight, lean in, and be aware of your worth, even if others aren’t. You got this.