Are Women Putting Too Much Focus On Work?

September 17, 2015  |  

On September 1st, Yahoo CEO, Marissa Mayer, announced on her Tumblr page that she is pregnant with twin girls. In the announcement Mayer shares that her twins are due in December and that her uncomplicated pregnancy will lead her to work throughout the pregnancy and take limited time off—like she did three years ago with her son.

She goes on to say, “I’m extremely energized by and dedicated to both my family and Yahoo and will do all that is necessary and more to help both thrive.  The future looks extremely bright on both fronts.”

Marissa’s announcement brings to light an ongoing conversation about whether or not women who focus on their careers are being pulled away from their families.

Can a woman focus on work and run a company like Yahoo successfully while still giving her all to three kids under the age of four?  

As a working mother and entrepreneur, there is a part of me that wants to give Marissa props for reaching such an impressive level of success while still managing her marriage and motherhood. It certainly is no easy feat. With just two kids and no pressure from Yahoo’s Board of Directors and executive team, I can tell you that my days can get pretty hectic and sometimes I lay to rest feeling like I am seriously coming up short.

One thing that gives me pause is Marissa’s mention of limited time off.

What does that mean? Does she plan to give birth to twins and go back to work the following month?

Maybe. I can’t be sure. But if that is her plan, I have to wonder if she’ll regret that decision in years to come. Maybe she won’t. Maybe she has an incredible ability to balance it all while maintaining her sanity. Or maybe her $42 million dollar salary gives her conveniences and luxuries that I go to bed dreaming about.

Here’s the thing–even if you have an amazing nanny (maybe two), a chef, and the world’s best housekeeper, does a mom with a demanding job miss doing certain things with and for her kids? Is it tough knowing that someone else prepares all of their meals? Is it hard when you get home from late nights at work, only to realize your kids are asleep—just as they were when you went to work that morning?

I’m not judging Marissa because I think so much goes into making a decision about what’s right for you and your family. I don’t know what her husband does or how engaged he is with the kids. I don’t know if grandparents live nearby or even in the home. I don’t know if her plan is to give Yahoo her best for five good years and then get some much-needed quality time in with her kids. I don’t know what her upbringing was like and what drives her to be so successful in the first place.

Many moms work because they have too. Clearly that isn’t the case for Mayer. But there are also many moms who work because they want to. I’m one of them. They work because part of their identity is tied into their ability to share their talents and gifts with the world. They pursue their chosen path because it’s what they feel called to do.

So do women like Marissa contribute to a culture that says work comes first? Maybe? But she can’t be blamed for the culture we live in. Americans, both men and women, work too many hours. As a nation we need to pay more attention to down time and rest. We all could benefit from being more present when we are with the ones we love.

Sure, I wonder how Marissa juggles it all. I wonder if she has any unsettling feelings about the many demands in her life. I wonder if she ever questions her choice to have it all.

I wonder if she is happy. That’s what matters most, really.

Is this woman happy about the life she’s created for herself and her family?  You see, while there are many stay-at-home moms who love what they do, there are also plenty of stay-at-home moms who aren’t happy. Some suffer from depression. Some want more out of life. Some even struggle with substance abuse.

So before any of us knock the working mom with the demanding career, we need to pause because we don’t truly know the details of her life. We don’t know her whole story. Maybe she’s making a mistake and crying herself to bed at night, but maybe—just maybe—she is doing her thing and living a wonderful life. Only she knows that for sure. Either way, I wish Marissa Mayer the best with whatever lies ahead.

Martine Foreman is a life coach, freelance writer, lifestyle blogger, and speaker. To learn more about her work and get great tips on how to create a life you love, check her out at CandidBelle.  

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