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One of Life's Dirty Little Secrets

Updated: Feb 15, 2021

Ah, the things people don’t tell you until it’s too late. Like when you are living in a rental apartment and your family, colleagues and home-owning friends say:

You need to buy a house. You have your own space, you can do what you want with it… you can make it yours. PLUS, you can write off the taxes!

And then, when you turn down an invitation for a Saturday BBQ because - between work and the weather - it’s the only time you have to rake leaves, they are suddenly letting you in on the dirty little secret:

Welcome to home ownership! The work and projects never end!


...when you and your partner are asked when you are going to start a family, you reply that you don’t know and you are met with a reaction along the lines of:

OH! Kids are great! I never knew I could love another person soooo much. Every day with them is an adventure! Such a blessing.

And then, after having your first child, and you are on your fourth straight month of sleep deprivation, they suddenly let you in on the dirty little secret:

OMG, YES! Kids are exhausting. I haven’t had a good night sleep or a moment to myself in YEARS. It’s constantly, “Mom! Mommy! Maaaaaa!!!” And forget about going to the bathroom in peace!

Life’s dirty little secrets.

But there is one, IMHO, that has a significant impact on working moms in traditional relationships.

When we are young, we start being groomed for our future career. We go through self exploration exercises in school, we take assessments to figure out our strengths, how our minds work and what careers would be a good fit for us. We learn to investigate these careers and tailor our education to them.

We put in the work. We have the drive. We land THE job that is the start to our career. We work harder, we push, we begin the climb. We network, we pivot, we continue to learn and grow. We have found our groove and we are succeeding. We continue to climb.

Some of us meet someone, we fall in love, our partnership grows. We find a place to live, we work together to make it our own. We take care of things together - the cooking, the cleaning, the yard work, the vet visits. We take care of ourselves and each other.

We decide to start a family. Which is excellent news because: “OH! Kids are great! I never knew I could love another person soooo much. Every day with them is an adventure! Such a blessing.”

Baby arrives and we are fortunate enough to work for a company that provides 3-month maternity leave. Dad? He’s lucky too! His company provides 2-week paternity leave. Woot Woot!

So, for the first two weeks, the two of you are taking care of things together. The diaper changes, the feedings, the middle-of-the-night wakings, the laundry (SO MUCH LAUNDRY), the bottle washing, the cuddling, the endless pacing and bouncing to lull your little one into a peaceful sleep.

Then Dad heads back to work. And you find yourself filling in the gap. Taking on his share of the load and sleep deprivation. Which makes sense because he has to work and you are still on maternity leave. You become the manager of the house and the default parent for your child.

You return to work. You keep the load. You remain manager of the house and default parent for your child. You assume the mental load of motherhood as a necessity and your norm.

You are exhausted and depleted. Something needs to change. Maybe you opt-out of your career. Maybe you slow down your pace and remove yourself from the fast lane. Maybe you continue to move forward while battling burn-out. Or maybe you have worked with your partner to figure out how a household can be managed together and you continue to move forward successfully in your career.

However you decide to move forward, you likely hear things from other moms or articles or social media posts that you are not alone. That the struggle you are going through or the one you worked through, is one most working moms share. That very few figured out before they start their family…. That very few figure it out after having their child(ren).

If only we had been given a heads-up... If only we were told that by doing things at home the way they have been done in the past while trying to move forward with our career would lead to stress, overwhelm and burn-out… if only we were told this might lead us to a place where we felt we needed to choose between our family and our career… then maybe…

We could have gotten ahead of the curve. We could have worked on a plan with our partners beforehand. We could have had conversations about expectations and roles and schedules. We could have set ourselves up for success instead of taking things as they came and faltering through to our current state.

But nobody told us. Your Career Success Begins at Home - one of life’s dirty secrets.



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