“No happy mothers” is the opening line in an interview conducted by Dana Spector with Orna Landau, the author of a new book in Hebrew, freely translated to “One more love”.
No happy mothers???
It’s time to publish the following post, written about 3 years ago. It was a part of a discussion on “Digital Eve Israel”. The discussion titled “Upward Mobility” started with the question why are there so few women CEO’s and VP’s in Israel.
Reflecting on the “upward mobility” issue, I was reminded how I once was extremely ambitious and the sky was the limit. I could have been your lady CEO, had I pursued my plan accurately. But something changed in my life and made me look at things from a different perspective.
The first time I was driven off my job was after my boss at the time said “this is not really a job for married women with children”. This was a year after my first child was born. Two guys were needed to take my place during the 4 months of maternity leave I took and when I returned I was softly advised to try another position, not quite as central or demanding as my original position (but please support the guys when they need it). I agreed to try it but it wasn’t quite it, and when I asked for my original position back, I was advised seriously by my boss that this is ‘not a suitable position for married women with kids’.
That insult was the last straw in that industry, where you sometimes need to behave like a man to move upwards.
That was the first change in plans. Nearly 6 years later, a start up I was working for, averaging 12 hours per day (already a mother with 2 kids) fired me, with half the company, when I was 2 months pregnant. Knowing I was about to have a difficult pregnancy I took it as some omen and decided to stay home and get to know my kids from noon hours on. The freelance jobs I took were performed with the laptop, in bed.
After only 6 months the change was showing on their health and on their growth charts. That’s when I decided I will stay home even longer and actually skip nannies with this 3rd and last child. During this time it suddenly hit me:
As liberal and feminist as I’d like to consider myself I realized that motherhood is really a very temporary privilege. If I don’t use it to the fullest now I will never get a chance to redo it. It’s not that I haven’t been a mother before: it’s just that I have discovered the connection between the quality and quantity in the case of motherhood. The more you are there – the more you can affect the way your children learn to think, behave, react, study, communicate, not to mention their choices… I became an ambitious mother.
After a couple of years at home, when the youngest went to his first “day care”, I decided to look, again, for a position. All offers I got discussed limitless number of working hours per day, for a position to suit my qualifications. Companies demanded 10 hours per day at least. I actually wrote about it several times, but no one really cares. It’s a state-induced workholism.
That’s when I became a “CEO”. I decided I have enough knowledge, experience, expertise, ability and originality to establish my own business. I never present myself as the CEO of Lemino. But here I am, letting you know, that I am.
The fact that women are not as involved in the corporate life as men has a lot to do with the choice of motherhood, and a little to do with the way math and sciences was (sometimes still is) taught. I know only one success story in person: I can never understand how she did and does everything – a brilliant career and motherhood at a very early age. I think that determination has a lot to do with her success. But most of all – talent. She is so talented and really appreciated. And it also takes a special talent to be able to juggle between the two careers. When I asked her opinion on the upward mobility, and she is a high management in one of the largest high-tech corporations based in Israel, she said that although at the entry level they keep the numbers balanced between men and women – it changes later, and it seems like most of the time it is made by choice, when priorities change. This choice is nothing to be ashamed of, or apologetic about.
I read this book, some time ago, “I don’t know how she does it” by Allison Pearson, which discusses smartly and with a lot of humor that conflict between a career and motherhood (also translated to Hebrew). Going back to happy mothers, I think every woman finds her happiness in a different place. I think happiness is, among other things, a function of what you want, same as disappointment is a function of what you expect or hope for. Happiness, real and true, can be found in many places but bear in mind that it does change forms with time.