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Hating being on the Mummy trajectory

I appear to have not yet managed to reconcile my underlying competitive nature with the reality of the impact that having taken time out to have children has had on my career.

I know titles are largely irrelevant and there are some places where everyone, including the office cat, is a managing director, but still a title does give a bit of an indication of where you are in the universal pecking order.

Looking at it objectively, over the course of the last three years I have had quite a lot of time away from the office.  The actual amount of time I’ve been in the office and working has been, by necessity, somewhat limited when compared to my male colleagues despite my best efforts to keep involved in projects from home and to only take relatively short periods of maternity leave.  But none of that really disguises that I have gone from being child free to someone who has had two babies.  That I am now a working mother.

Logically, given all of this, it shouldn’t irk me that one of my (male) peers has got a brand shiny new title that sounds better than mine.  But it does.

Why am I not able to give myself credit that despite everything that has happened over the course of the last three years I am still on a career trajectory at all.  Yes I may be moving a little slower than my colleagues, falling behind a bit but I’ve not dropped out or been diverted into a back water.  I’m still very much in the running.

Is this whole thing highlighted by the fact I work in an almost entirely male industry and so there are no other people doing what I’m doing? That I’m the only person I can see taking this path?

I went into this knowing that I was going to need to accept that for a (pluck a random number out of the air) five year period, things would slow down.  That I would fall behind where my husband and peers were.  That the compensation would be that I’d have built a family and that I’d be able to refocus once we got out of the early years.

Thinking about it, part of the problem stems back to my last job.  Having my first baby didn’t really impact my career.  I was promoted on track with my peers, I was continuing to build a business, I was working in an environment which I had trained up to enable me to work a bit more flexibly than some of my colleagues*.  I had carved myself out a little niche that worked and that felt pretty good – I seemed to have got the balance right.  Looking back I’m neatly glossing over the redundancy worries (over 40% of my group were made redundant), the working environment and the general wretchedness associated with that job.

The job move has highlighted everything – the attitude of keep at it until Christmas and then assess has left me without a set of aims and a path to follow to achieve them.

I think what needs to happen is that I need to force myself to work out where I am now and where I want to be so I can then map out how to get there.  The aim of taking over the whole whilst maintaining a happy home life is a bit broad to be really quantifiable and for me to work out how I’m doing against.

*By flexibly I mean that I would get in earlier than everyone else and have a lovely hour of peace and quiet and getting things done before everyone else came in and then I’d leave ‘early’ at 6pm to put the girls to bed and then work at home in the evenings.

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10 comments to Hating being on the Mummy trajectory

  • Knackered Mother

    >Oh darling, so much of this resonates. Through hard work and an enormous dollop of luck I've ended up with a flexible, part-time job but get that same feeling of being overtaken on the inside by the men. I think WHY CARE? But you do, especially when it is a job you love and yet you feel sidelined just because you've had babies. Grrr. Hang on in there x

  • London City Mum

    >Sounds like the fellow who took over my seemingly 'redundant' role at the Paranoid Former Employer, and became 'CEO, Global Capital Markets'…

    Very grand.

    Except he had a total team of, erm, well, three. Says it all really.

    LCM x

  • Flaf

    >Would it help if you thought about it in different terms?

    While your colleagues have been sat in the same office, doing the same job, you've been setting up a brand new branch in Hanoi. Then you set up another branch in Ho Chi Minh. You've done things and fought through things they can't comprehend. So you're not quite as up to speed on London gossip as you would have been. You can be again.

    Vietnam is thriving and can be kept ticking over by others while you plug back into London. Go easy on yourself. You've been busy. Just a bit

  • vegemitevix

    >You probably don't want to hear this, and admittedly it was a long time ago now, but I never did regain my former status after having the kids. Was it because I took a different trajectory and ended up being self-employed? Even when I went back to being employed, purportedly in a Director's role 14 years after my son was born, it still felt like a step backwards. Maybe that's the lesson for me..that having children irrevocably changes things, it changes us and we become people who want a more complicated fuller life than we previously did? I hope you can find a place and your own path. It isn't easy, and we are all here rooting for you! Vx

  • Mother Hen

    >Never forget how important it is to have a happy home and that YOU are the main reason. Never mind if HE brings home the bacon, it really is you who fries it up in the pan, even if you also work.
    As for the HE's at he office, they can eat raw bacon.

    You are a mom but you are also a MORE.

    You are just on a different path right now and there is nothing wrong about that. Enjoy what you have right now, it could all change tomorrow.

  • Careyannie

    >They call it 'Work Life Balance' it sounds as though its the balance bit thats out of kilter. Ive just gone back to work after 5 years, its took a little time to adjust. Now I feel that its my time to shine I am myself not Mummy and feel very empowered. As for eating raw bacon, as Mother Hen so cleverly says, who would want to!!! Keep going you will get to where you want to be. xxx

  • marketingtomilk

    >LIke knackered mother this post resonates so badly with me.
    In fact i wrote a similar post here:

    http://marketingtomilk.wordpress.com/2010/03/22/warning-employee-overtaking-on-the-right/

    I have now been away for 2 years, and am not unexpectedly going back to work with colleagues from 4 yrs ago. Colleagues that were well below me, but are now more senior.

    It really is a very difficult adjustment for the old ego.

    M2M

  • scribblingmum

    >It's a hard one, and one I struggle with daily sometimes as a part time working Mum. I do wonder if it is all possible, the balancing act. Luckily I work in a place surrounded by women in similar situations, all trying, so that at least allows us to compare notes. My main thought most of the time is that I won't care about this job in 30 years time, but I will about my kids. That's what gets me through a rubbish day !

  • marketingtomilk

    >LIke knackered mother this post resonates so badly with me.
    In fact i wrote a similar post here:

    http://marketingtomilk.wordpress.com/2010/03/22/warning-employee-overtaking-on-the-right/

    I have now been away for 2 years, and am not unexpectedly going back to work with colleagues from 4 yrs ago. Colleagues that were well below me, but are now more senior.

    It really is a very difficult adjustment for the old ego.

    M2M

  • Mummywhisperer

    >Remember in the long term, those guys who are moving so fast now, are likely to also find their career stalls for a while too. Hubby moved fast and did well young, but it often leaves gaps in a CV, so the past few years he has been frustrated by the promotions slowing down. But I think it has just given him stronger foundations.

    Use your time with the kids and a great job (even if not quite as great as you deserve) to learn all the amazing coping skills you are going to need when you are EVEN MORE successful in 10yrs time ;0).

    Hugs xxx

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