At first, Candice thought she was overreacting. Were things really different in the office ? Or was it just that her priorities changed ?
She was a first time parent and elected to take a few months of maternity leave. Although she was a dedicated career woman, she had great joy in being a mother to her daughter. It was another exciting milestone of her life. She struggled wth the decision to return to work, but knew that she would not feel complete unless she did. She was a classic workaholic after all.
The return to work was difficult. Candice felt immense guilt for hiring a nanny to care for her daughter. She found it difficult to concentrate and constantly wanted the day to pass quickly so she could rush home. She thought she was lucky that things had surprisingly settled in the office while she was out.
After some time, Candice gained clarity and was settling back to her old self. It was then that she noticed things were still different. She didn’t regain all of the responsibilities she had when she was out. They remained dispersed within her colleagues. She wasn’t always invited to major meetings like she used to be. Some of the new projects were still being given to others.
She also found she was more at her desk than usual. She was leaving at a reasonable time, and she was able to take lunch most days. It was also apparent that the majority of the VIP client assignments were being given to her coworkers. She was given the less demanding ones. She felt unimportant and left out. She had the same job title and same pay, but the role itself felt different. Why did this all change?
Many working moms know the feeling. It’s uncomfortable. It feels as if you’re overacting – but the situations come up more often. Then it hits – you might be a victim of mommy-tracking.
A mom might be mommy tracked if she notices a change in her role at work. Specifically, it refers to a situation where a mother returning from leave finds herself with less responsibility than what she had before she left. It appeared that Candice was a classic case.
Sadly, mommy tracking really does happen. It is not necessarily malicious, but it does undermine the mother’s ability to play both parental and career roles.
If it happens, what can mothers do? It’s really tough to say. It depends on many factors, including personal preference over your work-life balance, parenting goals, career goals and even, the environment at work.
Some moms may decide to enjoy the change of pace, as Candice has. “I love my career, and my accomplishments. I want to move forward eventually, but at this time, I just want to focus on my role as mom to my daughter. Who knows? It may change in a year, and I may want to pick up on things again. For now, I’ll take this as a welcome break to enjoy motherhood.”
Other moms may want to speak up. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with it – so long as it is done professionally and calmly with your superior. If this is the route for you, request a meeting and come prepared. Ask what you can do to be more involved. Volunteer to assist where needed and offer your expertise when appropriate.
Not quite able to take on extra work? No problem ! Do the best with what you’ve been assigned with. Be confident in your work and let your talent shine through your own assignments. Take initiative where you can and maintain that team player attitude.
In any case, mommy tracking should not stop or deter anyone from their goals. It is possible to be a working mom, even with all the challenges that come with it.
Readers: Have you experienced Mommy tracking or know someone that has gone through it? What advice do you have for moms out there?