Does my parental status really change how I'm perceived?
I recently read a blog post about a female entrepreneur who also happened to be a stay-at-home-mom. She put a great deal of energy into her business and wound up with physical representations of stress that landed her in her doctor’s office. Her doctor told her she was trying too hard to be a good mom on top of running her own business. She comes back at him with the idea that something like that would never be said to a man: ‘You’re trying too hard to be a good dad in addition to running your own business.’
I was in complete agreement with this post until the reactions I received from a recent Facebook post. I had posted about how well I'd done academically this past semester as a full-time student who works full-time and also, somehow, found the time to write and pass my PhD preliminary exam as well. That is a lot to accomplish in three and a half months and I am quite proud of my perseverance. There were a few people who posted about me also being a mother.
At first, I had the same reaction the woman who ran her own business did when her doctor commented on her parental status. If my husband had posted the same comment on his Facebook page, would people comment on the fact that he is a father as well? I doubt it. Even though him being a good father is just as important to him as me being a good mother is to me, why did my parental status matter? Who cares that I am a mother? What does that have to do with the price of eggs?
Later, it hit me. While it is true my husband would not have gotten the same comments about his parental status as I did, the fact that people know I am a mother is not a bad thing. It is hard work to balance a full-time job, a full academic load, and a high energy three and a half year old boy. However, it is possible. If you want it bad enough, you will find a way to make it all fit. You will not let distractions and excuses get in the way. My parental status in combination with my successes show other mothers what is possible. It can be done. You can be a good mother while working full time and pursuing a higher level degree. I am the proof.
Because I am the proof that it can be done, I need to be OK with being a mom, no matter what goal or dream I am chasing down next.
Until next time…
Dr. Anne Stark (@StarkAnneR) is the Director, Residence Life and Education at the University of Central Florida. This story was published on December 23, 2014, on Dr. Stark's blog (available here), and has been republished here with her permission.