Super Secret Fears of Dual Income Moms

The Mother’s Day news this year was studded with articles about Sheryl Sandberg’s recent revelation:  being a working parent, particularly a working parent, is harder than she first surmized.  In chatting with friends over the past few days we discussed that even though Sandberg is hitting on one very important point (and while many of us doesn’t feel it still goes far enough, we are thankful for the acknowledgement), it’s only one point of many that we face.  So what are the other super secret fears that “dual income” moms face when it comes to work?  Read on.

“It’s still REALLY hard.  Even when you have a partner that helps out, I could be put in a situation where I have to acknowledge how hard it is and leaves me vulnerable.”  Yep, we’ve all been there.  You try everything you possibly can to hide the fact that those 7am/6pm calls or after work happy hours are no problem for you.. until they become a problem because, well, you have to head off to job number two or it’s your morning to drop the kids at daycare and your spouse has a meeting of their own so they can’t cover for you.  Or that day you paid for a babysitter to have the 7pm meeting cancelled at the last minute.  And what’s worse, you’ll have to reveal the reason why you missed a meeting or are requesting a reimbursement, or why you’re not available to “bond” when everyone else is because there are only so many times when you can have a “conflict”.

“My husband and I work really hard, but I fear my superiors see me differently because I am part of a dual income couple and they are not and other people on my team are not.”  Oh, if we could all keep our spouses’ careers and whereabouts 100% under wraps because it really has nothing to do with you or your performance or goals at work, right?  That may be true, and some leaders are truly able to focus on the employee and their effectiveness, but some people haven’t had good experiences with this.  When your family makes more money than your boss’s family (even if it’s only a function of two externally working spouses vs. one) it can create some awkwardness: your request for a two week vacation to Disney World this summer.  And how do you tackle that one?

“My career isn’t just an ‘extra’ – I’m serious about my career trajectory, getting promoted, and growing influence.”  This is a tough one.  For so long, as detailed in the Two Income Trap, a second wage earner was a luxury or a back-up plan.  In today’s world, two incomes are critical to survive in many parts of the U.S.  If I had a nickel for every time someone told me “I don’t know how you do it.  Does your husband really work as much as you too?” or “I could never do this job if my husband didn’t work entirely from home.  Your husband travels too? Oh my gosh, how do you do it?”, I’d be rich! Now I know this is meant to be taken as a compliment but it feels irksome.  I do it because (1) I need to earn money to create the lifestyle I want and (2) I’m not here as an “extra”.  I care about my job and my career and I want to kick butt at it!

These are just a few… and I’m sure it’s not just dual income moms (or single moms, or mom in general, for that matter) that have these super secret fears.    I bet some dads do too.  What are your super secret feels about being half of a dual income couple?

Have Kids, Will Work

Categories: Diversity, Leadership, Mindfulness, My Thoughts, Parenting, Purpose

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