I have been lucky to experience role reversals in several situations in my life, and each time I have found that having the “shoe on the other foot” to be invaluable. One humbling example of that “aha” moment for me was when I was a basketball official for a few years. Disclaimer: this was when I was still young and able to keep up with kids half my age. I never realized how difficult it is to make calls in the heat of a game, with two other officials and 10 kids on the court, and screaming fans all around. I was an Academic All-State player in high school (translation, nerdy good player). So, I had many snarky opinions of basketball officials – that is until I became one! It is not as easy as it appears. I also learned the same about being a mom years later.
We have often heard that there is no substitute for experience and that was true for me in relation to my opinions of women off-ramping from their career to have a child. According to the Center for Work Life Policy, 73% of women who off-ramp to have a child have trouble finding a job upon returning, and those that do return lose 16% of their earnings power.
It was not until I became a mom myself that I truly understood the emotional changes that moms go through: the responsibility increases, the marital role changes, the costs you did not consider, and I could continue. I today pride myself in being a manager with a style much like the mom side of me – seeking to give the resources needed for development with care and compassion. I did not feel that way at all before making that transition to being a mom. I was a textbook workaholic prior to being a mom; and now when an employee tells me they are pregnant, I am thrilled for them with no concern about the time that will be required away from work because I see they will be better after their experience. In fact, one employee of mine is on leave now with her second child and I am holding a body of work for her return. Yes, I may be a bit behind, but she will come back re-energized for the work ahead and will propel the work more quickly. I think it is a leap of faith that a mom manager makes.