Fragile Balancing Act: Juggling Motherhood and a Career in a Post COVID World
When I was approached to write this article, my initial reaction was “no, thank you.” I did not want my colleagues to see behind the curtain of my life as a mother. At work, I am organized, confident, and highly caffeinated. At home, toys are strewn about, my hair is almost always in a mom-bun, and my clothes are covered in milk, food, and various mystery stains.
I also hesitate to let my clients see this side of my “mom life.” If clients ask, I will tell them about my son, who is 15 months and my daughter, who is 2. It’s not that I am ashamed to be a mom. My kids are my pride and joy and I love bragging about them just as much as the next mom. What I dread is my clients’ and colleagues’ follow-up questions. “How do you have time to run your own practice and have two babies at home?” They know that society hasn’t made this easy. It is a fragile balancing act.
While the pandemic has caused so much grief, pain, and loss, some of the unexpected effects have been a blessing for my family. For example, our family life has been transformed by my husband’s ability to work remotely.
Before COVID, my husband commuted to San Francisco and had to fly across the county with little notice multiple times per month. Since March 2020, he has not traveled once for a work meeting. Now, he walks the dog twice a day, unloads the dishwasher, prepares dinner, keeps the “laundry train” moving and helps with bedtime.
If my husband was still in the office, I would have to shoulder significantly more of the burdens of raising our children. With his increased presence at home, I am able to pursue my career full-time. I know that my husband’s involvement in our family life is not unique as more dads are working remotely. Since COVID, I see dads everywhere. They are at daycare drop off and pick up. They are doing the grocery store run. They are at the pediatrician’s office.
With that being said, the benefits that my family receives from my husband working remotely is a direct result of a global pandemic – not from intentional societal change to support families. Employees were only allowed to work remotely to stop the spread of a virus; not to help our families.
Everyone benefits when fathers can share the day-to-day responsibilities of child-rearing. I hope that we can be more intentional about further progress to help working families rather than waiting for a pandemic. I am the first to admit that change is hard. As a legal community, however, we can make small changes.
Going forward, one small change that I would like to propose is to make networking events more inclusive of working parents. Since becoming a mom, I have missed numerous before-work and after-work events because of “kid stuff.” But lunch is much easier (unexpected doctor’s appointments and school closures notwithstanding). I understand that not all events are suitable for lunch and everyone (including me!) loves a good happy hour event. However, if we could offer 25% of our work events at lunch, I know that many working moms and dads would be eager – and able – to attend!