When I interviewed for my job, part of the interview revolved around my social life, as it would be a key element in my potential professional life. I was totally honest about having children. I actually wielded that fact in a way to show how I was different, how I was unique from the other candidates. And while I don’t talk much about my children in the office, the reality of being a working mother is certainly not something I hide from my co-workers.
And, yet, sometimes I find myself hiding some of the details of my life from people that I meet at parties or other places that might involve networking. If I have to rush home to relieve my babysitter, I am more likely to say that I need to go walk my dog instead. In fact, I find that I am far more likely to talk about my dog or show pictures of her scraggly, furry face than of my children’s unscraggly, unfurry faces. And not because I’m not proud of my children or proud of being a mother, but because I don’t want to be “different” right now.
At this stage of my career, which still feels nascent, I am trying to establish that I fit in, not that I stand out. So while I would never lie about having children, I don’t tend to offer up stories about them, I don’t tend to include them as part of my professional identity. And, honestly, I know that I’m not doing anything terrible, but I still feel guilty about it. I feel guilty because I don’t think I would be where I am today—in my career or in my life—without being a mother.
Motherhood has given me so much in terms of confidence and a new kind of intelligence and—let’s face it—disaster-preparedness. These things have all formed who I am today and allowed me to be better than I would otherwise be. I’m sure at a certain point—just like how I wound up being 26 for multiple years—I will feel at ease enough to talk freely about my kids without feeling like being a mother renders me somewhat irrelevant. But, for now, it’s something that I don’t talk that much about, just like how I don’t talk about highlighting my hair to hide the scattered grays.