Working mothers catch a lot of flak. In addition to dealing with societal pressures about what it means to be a mother and a professional, women are frequently penalized by their own employers in subtle and sometimes not-so-subtle ways.
There are also the eye-rolls when a woman must leave the office by 6, and the assumption that becoming a mother will drastically alter her abilities as a worker–as if somehow a woman expelled her brain along with her baby in the delivery room.
And these assumptions take hold long before a woman becomes a mother. The issues facing working mothers are not just a “mommy problem”–the problem affects all women.
All women are human beings with value and are equally deserving of a shot at success.
Still, with all the negative stereotypes that surround working mothers, there are several key reasons why mothers are workplace rockstars and should be recognized as such. Below are five of them.
1. They have a Strong Sense of Direction.
Becoming a mother is a transformative experience. In one moment, you’re taken from being a regular person focused on your own goals and desires to a life source on whom someone else completely depends.
The transition can be shocking. Life altering. It can set you completely off course, or it can help sharpen your sight better than ever before.
Women frequently emerge from the hazy cocoon of new motherhood laser focused and with a strong appreciation for their newfound strengths.
When it comes time to return to work, they transfer those strengths to their new life as a working parent.
Whether a woman’s return to work was a necessity or completely voluntary, she likely weighed several factors upon her return and ultimately decided that returning was the best option for her family.
This also means that she sees value in her career and in turn gives value back.
It means she’s taken stock of her priorities and has determined that her work life is one of them.
Further, because working mothers are aware of the unjust stereotypes put upon them, they frequently work extra hard to combat them. Is that fair? No, but it’s a reality.
2. They are Time Efficient.
Working mothers get things done. They don’t have time to waste, and so they make every minute count.
When you’re juggling a life, a career, and children, you have no choice but to organize yourself within an inch of your life.
Your calendar will have a calendar. Heck, even your bathroom breaks will be scheduled, and probably timed.
By 9 AM, a working mother has already been up for 5 hours and is ready for lunch.
This also means that a working mom likely isn’t wasting time scrolling through Facebook Monday morning. Rather, she’s knee-deep in a proposal she probably started planning on Sunday night.
A painful reality of being a mother is that you are deeply, acutely aware of your vying obligations and the number of hours available to you each day.
So, you schedule and budget your time wisely. And who benefits from this? Employers.
3. They’re not Afraid to Change Course.
Working mothers are experts at prioritizing, but they’re also not afraid to change course.
One of the biggest realizations you have after becoming a mother is how quickly life changes. For better or worse, once you bring a child into the world, you are put on the fast track down the road of milestones and memories.
Nothing stays the same for long. Within the first year of your baby’s life, you watch them transform from a helpless little burrito into a walking, talking feelings machine with a penchant for destruction.
Within five years, your tiny person is off to participate in the real world.
Even if you grew to love a routine that you established in your life, it’s very likely that you’re only a milestone away from it completely falling apart.
So, you learn to roll with the punches.
And this skill translates into every aspect of a working mother’s life.
As stated earlier, working moms don’t have time to waste. So, if there’s a project that’s going nowhere or a nagging personnel matter that needs to be addressed, a working mother isn’t afraid to jump in and make some tough calls.
They value their time and the time of others, and they understand that sometimes it’s best to cut your losses.
4. They Understand the Issues Working Parents Face.
Another reason working mothers benefit the workplace: they make empathetic leaders and supportive colleagues.
They understand what it’s like to return to work for the first time after having a child. They know the challenges and the virtues. They know that sometimes kids get sick or that sometimes you need to leave early for a school event, and that this shouldn’t mar your reputation as a professional. They understand that parental leave in the U.S. is an abomination, and if they’re an employer themselves, they may even take steps to offer their workers a better policy.
Because they’re constantly working to understand the world through the eyes of someone else–their children–they’re good at putting themselves in someone else’s shoes.
They also have the benefit of having lived in two worlds: Before Kids and After Kids, and they know that you can still be an outstanding professional while also being dedicated to your family.
They’re good at reframing and are expert problem-solvers.
Of course, this isn’t always true. Practicing employment discrimination law, I’ve seen examples of working parents being the least understanding of the struggles of other working parents.
Still, I like to think those are the exception rather than the rule. And in my experience, they are.
5. They are Trailblazers.
Finally, working mothers are trailblazers.
When I think of all the strong women who were early influences in my education and career, they all had one thing in common: they were all working mothers.
They were the determined, intensely focused, phenomenally talented role models that made me believe I too could be a mother and have a career.
As irritating as it can be for women to be told they can “have it all,” it’s important to see representations of women balancing work and motherhood because, traditionally, women were not given the same opportunities as men to establish careers and families.
Heck, in many cases, they’re still not.
Every woman who has come before us has paved the way for our daughters to succeed.
And every working mother has done the same–with a family in tow.
We need them in the workforce, and we need a workforce that supports them.