Why Working Moms Can’t Have It All, From a Working Mom Who Tried to Achieve the Impossible

Try as you might, it will always feel like you’re sacrificing something

A woman is at her desk behind her laptop with her lamp next to her; the woman is asleep daydreaming of having fun in the summer
While it's nice to entertain the idea that we can have it all, it's often not realistic.
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When I had my fourth child, I decided that I would be bringing him to work with me every day. I had him on a Friday and started working from home on Monday. As the owner of a company, it was a privilege that I am acutely aware of. At no point did I look at that and say, “Oh, every woman should do this!” It is completely impractical for most people. I brought my mom with me to help; I did conference calls while nursing and changed diapers when I wasn’t doing notes. It was a new reality but one I fully embraced.

Clients loved him, and he really became the life of the studio. He came with me to do an orchestral recording at two weeks with a 60-piece orchestra and slept through the entire thing. We joked that having him at the office was like having a studio baby instead of a studio dog.

I left an hour earlier than normal on most days but still worked through the night at home. After a year when he became more mobile, it was difficult to keep him from entering the studios so he had to stay at home during the day. I cherished that time we had together and the love that everyone had in the studio.

Our industry is filled with false urgency, and it won’t stop anytime soon.

Or at least I thought that was the case.

When one of our employees left at the end of his contract, he said, “I don’t know how to tell you this, but that baby ruined everything.” He went on to explain that I wasn’t always available to him like I was before. That leaving an hour earlier really impacted the company, I wasn’t traveling for sales as much, etc.

In the moment, I cried inconsolably. It was everything I feared, as this was a surprise pregnancy and that comment reaffirmed all of my insecurities about having another baby. I felt there was no such thing as making it all work cohesively. Upon reflection, and with a great deal of time since, I know that something will always feel sacrificed. You do miss out on things. I miss out on so many things with my kids. Their school meetings, sports practices, play dates, and most days I miss the bedtime rituals.

Our industry is filled with false urgency, and it won’t stop anytime soon. Urgent reels that are due late on a Friday night but go untouched until Monday afternoon. Deadlines that are firm and unmovable, until they move to the next week because someone is unhappy with a voiceover take. This life has no forgiveness for motherhood. The hour and a half you loose giving your kids dinner and putting them to bed could be detrimental to your job if you can’t send an email. There are agencies that pat themselves on the back for hiring someone pregnant, only to work them 70 hours a week when they return from maternity leave.

Until the culture changes, the sacrifice of your family life is key to a successful career. Technology making communication and delivery of assets instant isn’t even fast enough anymore. There are a few agencies that value the time their employees have with their families, both male and female. The funny thing is that they never talk about it. They never boast about working reasonable hours. It’s just deeply engrained in their values. They get just as many jobs done, the work is just as good and almost everyone has a sense of ease about them.

Even in the chaos that is advertising, this career and lifestyle is a choice that I make every day, and I make it happily. My husband is incredibly involved, and we have help. I could not do it alone.

I find so much satisfaction in my career. I’m passionate about the creative, and I love the challenges we face every day. I remember someone once saying that a good mom is a happy mom. I might not be home as much as we would all like, but I am able to support everyone and do something that I love.

Perhaps one day the urgency will settle and we can find that balance between work and home. But even if it doesn’t, I wouldn’t want to do anything else.

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