“To be [a working mom], or not to be [a working mom]. That is the question.” No one seems to know the answer.
No doubt today’s moms are “working.” The concern relates to how and why a woman’s job is affected by her pregnancy. Does she keep the same job? Will she downshift? Or does she stay at home? What’s right and what’s wrong?
Finding an solution to the working mother conundrum has been the pursuit of millions of women. Including me. Which is why I wrote Mama’s Got a Brand New Job.
Back in the day, I had a six-figure salary and a job that I loved. Recently married at 30, I was ready to start a family. And as much as I wanted to be a mother, I loved my job; I never thought about giving it up. Less than a year in, childcare woes and the pressures of managing life, work, and motherhood took their toll. I made the decision to stay at home. I was out of the work force for ten years.
That was a pre-9/11 world. Tele-commuting was in its infancy. Childcare options, especially in smaller metropolitan areas like Austin, where I live, were slim. Part-time, work-from-home opportunities which exist today were hard to come by. In the past decade, there have been many positive changes which have afforded working mothers more options to balance work and family.
But some things have not changed. The United States of America is the only industrialized nation in the world which does not require federally mandated paid maternity leave. And frustratingly, the school day still ends hours earlier than the work day. Affording after-school childcare is an expensive consideration for any household which does not have access to alternative childcare options (read: grandma). Truth be told, if the United States valued working mothers in the workforce on equal footing with everyone else, we would have the laws and the practices in place to support them.
These challenges are monumental, and they will not be addressed quickly. The best thing that today’s woman can do is imagine that she is operating in a perfect world, and work within the constraints available. Female professionals, especially those of the younger generation, must know the boundaries which exist so they can start knocking them down. The earlier they start, the less risk they undertake, and the longer they will reap the benefits.
Mama’s Got a Brand New Job brings to life just this sort of young professional. Maxine Pedersen’s transformation to working mother is communicated not through another haranguing editorial (which, by the way, I have written and can be read here), but through a different medium: fiction. Intelligent Chick Lit. Hip Women’s Fiction.
If Sex and the City and Lean In had a baby, it would be Mama’s Got a Brand New Job. Maxine has the vivacity of a Carrie Bradshaw, with the brains of a Sheryl Sandberg. She works her way through corporate America with razor sharp wit, sporting a lavender dress suit and heels.
Critically, Maxine possesses another character trait: maternal femininity. Mama’s Got a Brand New Job brings contemporary women’s fiction a character who loves to work, and who loves to be a mother. Maxine Pedersen celebrates the unity of these two formerly disparate ideologies. In doing so, I hope Maxine can help change the conversation about what it means to be a “working mom,” and empower women to find the best solutions for their unique circumstances.
Learn more about the importance of using fiction to communicate this message by watching my video below. Spoiler alert- I (attempt to) speak French, so prepare yourself for a good chuckle.
Merci, and enjoy Mama’s Got a Brand New Job!