New Moms: We Are Here for You

Leah McLarenLeah McLaren, a columnist for the Globe and Mail (our national newspaper), wrote an open letter to the wife of Peter McKay (Canadian Justice Ministry). McKay has been embroiled in a scandal regarding leaked emails he sent to his staff for Mother’s and Father’s day:

“The Mother’s Day email hailed women for the home and childcare duties they perform before arriving at the office, while the Father’s Day message made no mention of diapers or school lunches, and instead praised them for “shaping the minds and futures of the next generation of leaders.” http://www.ctvnews.ca/politics/mackay-enough-has-been-said-about-sexism-controversy-1.1889490

In McLaren’s article she talks about the challenges of being a new mother (McKay’s wife, Busy MomNazanin Afshin-Jam MacKay) recently had a baby. On our research teams we (Clare and Clive) have a number of new Moms who are juggling work, study, childcare, and …. Although they do not complain I (Clare) can see the exhaustion written all over their faces. I witness how their confidence ebbs as they so often feel like they are not doing enough, they are not carrying their weight on the team, they are not spending sufficient time on their research, and on and on. McLaren advises Nazanin Afshin-Jam MacKay:

No matter how overwhelming it feels now, while your son is small and dependent, remember that one day it will change. The former you – the activist and author and tireless campaigner who never had spit up in her hair or a soother in her handbag – is still there, lurking at the back of your neglected shoe closet. She might have receded for the moment, but she will emerge again. And in the meantime, here’s a tip: Don’t be afraid to ask your husband to do more. I know he’s busy.

Check out the full article are: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/life/article19344705.ece

Given the way careers unfold many female doctoral students and new faculty are new Moms. Take heart – you are doing plenty and do not forget that that you are smart women who deserve to be in academia. Brush that guilt off your shoulders. The exhaustion will pass and you will be stronger and wiser. Remember, we are here for you and will continue to be here for you because you are our valued colleague and friend. Print off McLaren’s article and when you need a boost, read it (mind you it might be at 2:00 a.m.).

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3 thoughts on “New Moms: We Are Here for You

  1. Hi Clare,

    Thanks for sharing this post…so much of what you wrote about resonated with me. As the mother of a 3 year old daughter and a 10 week old son I am trying to carve out some time for myself to work on my thesis. As I struggle to complete my thesis, there are days when I wonder if I will ever finish it. Someone said that “Life is what happens while you are making other plans!” It is so easy to become discouraged when you see other people defending their theses, while some of us are still plugging away. It helps to know that there is a supportive network of colleagues, such as the BTE group who continue to show that they believe in us, even when we don’t believe in ourselves. As new or experienced mothers we must persevere in order to reach the goals we set for ourselves before we became parents. I for one, will not only be brushing the guilt off my shoulders, but the spit up too, as I take some time during the next few months of my maternity leave to complete my thesis.

  2. This blog post touched my heart. Thank you Clare for not only raising the issue but bringing to the field and to the teams such compassion and community.
    PS. I wrote this response while my four year old is demanding I take her to the corner store for a lollipop and my three year old son is crying because his sister took his dump truck…

  3. No matter how much we “deserve” it, if the organizational environment does not support diversity and is not flexible, then there is no way moms can succeed.

    Congratulations to all of you for recognizing that a workplace culture that is positive for women is good for all.

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