Mother’s Day is a great day to reflect on being a mother. And on being a mother who works. And on the controversy over Sharon Sandberg’s new book, Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead. I come from a family of working mothers. My mother worked. Her mother worked. It frankly never occurred to me not to work. It never occurred to me to hold back or not be ambitious (something that Ms. Sandburg says that some women do). I guess I was lucky–I had models of working mothers who managed both jobs and families. I had the luxury of having a husband who believed that I should work, who supported me in working and who carried close to a 50/50 load at home (he traveled more than me for many years, so it wasn’t 50/50 in those years). My kids were adequately cared for–if not perfectly cared for; my house was never really clean, and my career worked well enough–until I got near the top of the organization. Whatever the reason for my not becoming a C-suite-r, it wasn’t because I was a mother or because I cut corners because I had a family. Or maybe it was. Maybe the people above me made decisions about my career taking my family into consideration. I don’t know. I just know that a certain point I chose to leave the organization where I worked because I definitely wasn’t going up any more and there were interesting opportunities for me outside of working for that company.
The bottom line is that being a mother is very important. Working is very important(to some). Being at the top is very important (to some). You have to find your balance among them. You have to find your own happiness. There are prices–guilt, being tired, dirty houses, missed soccer games. As long as you’re being driven by your own values and dreams you can make it work. I have two very successful daughters, in part because they had a model to follow. My successful sons regularly do more than 50%. I guess they had a model too.