Katrina Alcorn was a success working mother of three at a tech firm but increasingly found herself unable to handle the demands of trying to have it all. She had a reliable spouse, healthy kids, and a great job but having to juggle day care, demanding clients, sick kids and business trips was also daunting. Then one day, a co-worker walked in on her while she was pumping breast milk. On another occasion, a male employee sent out a company-wide email complaining about being grossed out by her “bodily fluids” being in the office fridge.
Then the panic attacks began. They led to anxiety and depression over her inability to cope, balance and “lean in” all at the same time. But she felt guilty about complaining. After all, it was a privilege to be a working mom, right?
When women demand wanting the career and family, there are the voices out there that say having kids is a luxury of the rich. This same chorus claims that women should be able to stay at home with their children or hire help, and if they ask for anything like sanity, self-care and wellness, then that is pure “entitlement”.
Alcorn lost it. She suffered a nervous breakdown while driving to Target to buy diapers. The San Francisco Bay area mom eventually quit her job, spent a year decompressing and lived off of savings. When she emerged healthier and more mentally stable, she penned the book about the ugly secret of the working mom.
“Maxed Out: American Moms on the Brink” tells working moms three things: You’re not alone. It’s not your fault. And it doesn’t have to be this way.
“We’re expected to do our jobs as if we don’t have children — and then raise our children as if we don’t have jobs,” Alcorn told The Week. “If you think about the model of the ideal mother, it’s the person who sacrifices everything for her child. The ideal worker is someone who can drop everything and go on a business trip at a moment’s notice, and who can stay late — not leave at 5 o’clock to pick up kids. So if you’re trying to be both, then you are faking it.”
Alcorn offers tips in her book and on her blog, WorkingMomsBreak.com.
She admitted getting frustrated by the trolls that come out when ever she writes about balance.
“As soon as anyone talks about motherhood being difficult or society having an obligation to mothers, the trolls come out en masse…and it makes me realize how much we need to talk about this,” she added. “I actually had a lot of advantages…the point is that if I couldn’t make it work, imagine what it’s like for single parents, or people living paycheck to paycheck!”
True that. And as many know, even “Lean In” author Sheryl Sandberg had to walk back her own advice in her book after husband passed away and she realized herself first hand that not having a spouse makes all that “leaning in” extra difficult.
It’s not as easy as they all say, so we really need to give moms a break!
h/t The Week