Thursday, April 29, 2010

proud and thankful

This is a post I have been mulling on since last week. Then I saw Josie's writing prompts and realized she had one that was just perfect for it.

She asked

5. Pick an emotion that best represents your state of mind right now and write creatively on that theme.
- Inspired by my musings on blogging and emotional authenticity last week.

Last week I got promoted. I'm delighted at the recognition, and inordinately pleased with the rather important title I now have. In the past four and a half years I have had two children, two maternity leaves (admittedly they were short American ones), and still, I been promoted twice in that time. I'm in a very different place professionally than I was four years years ago.  I'm proud of myself. This isn't something I usually let myself feel. Most of the time I feel as if I could be doing better, and that at any given moment I should be using my time differently. When that promotion was announced, and I was congratulated by my coworkers, I decided to allow myself to bask a little. I might even say it again. Louder. I AM PROUD OF MYSELF!

Sometimes it seems there are so many negative messages out there about combining working with motherhood. "You will be overlooked, treated differently, respected less because you have children" these voices say. Many women hear these rumblings and wonder "is it worth the effort, going back to work. It feels so hard".

I by no means mean to deny the very real difficulties we women face, but I wanted to speak up, nonetheless. I want to point out that I became more effective at my job after I became a mother. I am more competent, responsible and focused. Perhaps because working is, on some level, a choice now.  I am more mindful about how I use my time. I'm a better listener and a more thoughtful person. I suppose I finally grew up. I believe that I have grown more professionally over the last four years than I would have done had I not become a mother.

This pride in my seniority comes along with thankfulness. I'm thankful that my company noticed my performance. I have a fantastic boss, who sees ideas generated and work delivered, not the occasional day off or early departure for child related activities. I'm also thankful that the company took my recommendation to promote a talented young woman in my group, a woman who just came back from her maternity leave herself. It is great to work in an environment that treats parents well.

I'm grateful for our wonderful daycare. I could not be happy and productive at work if I wasn't completely satisfied that the children were happy. And I'm grateful to the kids themselves, they are fantastic, healthy kids who almost never need to stay home sick (now that I've mentioned this they will, no doubt, all come down with the lurgy in time for my important meeting next week, but they are unusually robust, and for that I'm grateful) Mainly though, I feel thankful for Geekydaddy, a man who fundementally believes that a woman and a man are equal when it comes to careers and home, and who shares in my career achievements, and supports me through the ups and downs. I often wonder how I got so lucky, and it was on my drive home from work, remembering our first dates, that I put my finger on it.

Back when I was a flighty young thing on the San Francisco scene I met lots of lovely men. I was usually dressed to impress, in a mixture of sale price designer clothes, vintage items, and a fair amount of exposed skin. I had my belly button pierced, and sported long blonde hair with a daring platinum streak. I attracted quite a bit of attention from the boys. Until they asked what I did. Men would fall over themselves backing away from the bar when they realized the cute blonde chick had a PhD in molecular biology. Or possibly I am completely paranoid and I just had spinach stuck in my teeth. It was surprising to me though, that in this day and age (well this was 1997) so many men were disinterested in a woman because she had more education then they did.

Then I met Geekydaddy. He loved the fact that I was a science geek, and thought that having a girfriend with a PhD was the coolest. In fact it was after I showed him my PhD thesis, a scenario analgous to "Would you like to come up and see my etchings?" that I first  revealed a little more of myself to him!

More than ten years on, he is still proud of me, and that is even better than feeling proud of myself.