So I try hard not to delve too far into Mommy Blogdom, but I am a mother, so sometimes it is inevitable. My kids after all are inextricably linked to my DNA, my life and my career. However, I am also the first to admit that I am a mom first and career woman second. One role has dire consequences if I mess up, the other can also have pretty severe consequences, but for the most part no one runs the risk of dying if a deadline is missed.
The first reason I started writing Appatomy was because, for lack of a better explanation, I was bored. I loved being at home with my kids, but I missed work and the excitement and challenges it brought me so much more than I expected I would. It was such a huge part of my identity and suddenly it was gone. I thought I had to be a stay at home mom to be a good mom, but I found out that isn’t always the case. I have learned that I thrive, am most happy, and the best mom when I am working with a team of smart people where I can learn and grow on an adult level by day and still be a caring, engaged, and loving mother by night and weekend. So, I decided I can’t be a forever stay-at-home mom and I am more than OK with that. In fact contemplating my next move has been very exciting!
The second reason I started Appatomy, is also career related, but not for my career. I knew that being a girl entering a technology related field can be tough, or more realistically, I know women have the perception that they can’t get a leg up in a male dominated industry. The ratio of men to women is pretty staggering and even those that seek tech content online are far more likely to be men than women. Yet, being a girl who has had a successful career in technology and had a blast while doing it right along side the boys (who were also some of my biggest encouragements), I wanted to spread the word that it is possible, that girls can thrive in this field, be damn good, get respect, enjoy it, and that more women should join us. Just look at that other Sheryl as an example, you what’s her name, Sheryl Sandberg, she works at a little company you may have heard of…Facebook. She is amazing and got to a point where she was not only successful but actively sought after and courted away from one powerful position at Google to another at Facebook, by the Mark Zuckerberg. But most notably for me, she spells her name correctly with an S!
So, while I have been busy plotting how I can encourage more women to join the tech field, heck they BELONG in tech field, and make it known to them that opportunities are ripe, I didn’t realize I wasn’t doing a very good job of instilling that same message with the two little boys I am raising. It became painfully obvious this past Sunday.
While out running errands we passed a Home Goods store. A security guard was standing outside the entrance handing out Jr. Security Officer Badge stickers to little ones. My oldest Jack, happily took one and proudly put it on his shirt announcing he was now a police officer. As we walked through the isles of another store, Jack grew wary of his sticker and he peeled it off. He walked up to his dad and stuck it to his shirt. My husband looked at him and said “Maybe Mommy wanted it, did you ask her?” Jack looked at me quizzically and said “You can’t be a Police Officer, You’re a Princess.”
Now I have to admit, I was never a girly-girl growing up and I never played dress up or princess, unless you count the times I portrayed Princess Leia under the cedar tree’s of my childhood friend John’s Spigarelli’s back yard (they made an awesome makeshift Endor. So when he said I was a princess, there was a small part of me that felt like….well, a princess. Although I still possess many of my tomboy tendencies, I have also come to love fashion, jewelry, shoes, pretty little vintage things, makeup, baking, and home decor, all of which are strewn throughout our home. I guess, I am not surprised that he sees me through his three year old eyes as more girly than the dirty little skin-kneed tomboy that my older sister used to shoo away because my appearance embarrassed her so. Yet, I can’t help but be disturbed that my three year old is already categorizing careers based on gender.
I clearly haven’t been doing a great job of letting him know that Mommy’s can be anything. In fact when I leave the house, whether I am going to a business meeting or industry event, he always asks me to bring him something back from the store assuming all I do is shop and when I ask him to clean up his toys he sometimes says “No, that is a Mommy’s job”. I just assumed these were just a three year olds silly perceptions, but I am realizing that I am witnessing his actual view of gender roles form before my eyes and it is my responsibility to help shape that. Notice I said “help shape”, not force.
So, despite the guilt that I feel leaving my two kids to go back to work full-time to fulfill my dreams and needs, I take comfort knowing that me being back at work will give them and all the little tom-boys and girly-girls examples that Mommy’s can thrive in the tech industry. We really can be and do it all. I myself in the last week have been a housekeeper, writer, dog walker, fashion consultant, sand castle builder, bike rider, website builder, sanitation specialist (diapers count right? oh and there was that time Truett clogged the toilet with a toy), railway engineer and roadway constructor, artist, chef, accountant, concert goer, home decorator, photographer, friend and even an owl.