Several years ago, in my pre-kid days, I was at a celebratory happy hour chatting with a woman I had just met. She was several years ahead of me in terms of life and she had had the type of career that I dreamed about for myself someday. She was poised, she was articulate, she was stylish, and I thoroughly enjoyed our engaging conversation.
It wasn't until we were several topics into the conversation that she made a throw-away comment about her son. As we talked further, it turned out she had two kids, both in high school (which would explain the ease with which she was able to attend a happy hour, something I struggle with as the mom of two little ones who desperately need me somehow the most between the hours of 5 and 7 pm).
I have to say she challenged my young professional, pre-conceived notions of what a mom of school-aged kids looked like. And I was impressed.
I was also impressed that she had so much to talk about that didn't directly involve her kids. It was clear that she had interests and an identity in addition to motherhood.
I thought, if this is what being a mom can look like - that you can build an amazing career and still have kids - then that is something I could get on board with.
Up until then, I hadn't a clue as to how that could be done. My mother was a teacher, which is a job in and of itself, trust me. But with her work hours aligning with my school day, and summers off, it certainly seemed a bit more realistic than reaching the C-suite at a corporation or major non-profit (the latter being my goal).
I say all of this to make a point about our responsibility as working moms. It's all too easy to only surround yourself with people like you. To go to meet-ups and coffee dates with other working moms. Don't get me wrong, those connections are crucial. Those are your people. The ones who get it in a way that few others will. But I also think it's important to spend time in the company of other professionals who aren't moms. Not only does it keep you current, it also gives you the opportunity to show them what a working mom can look like. To perhaps change their pre-conceived notions.
Like that woman who surprised me all those years ago. I try to remember my audience. I engage in the conversations, flexing my I-have-interests-outside-of-motherhood muscles. And when it makes sense, I casually mention that I'm also an amazing mom to two kids.
I'm proud of my kids. I'm also proud of who I am, what I do, and what I'm about.
Being a mom is my superpower. It makes everything else that I do better. And I want to be an example of what is possible because of motherhood, not in spite of motherhood.
Do you have an example in your own life of what is possible as a working mom? Or are you going to be that example for someone else?