gail schimmel

The blog of writer Gail Schimmel: A bit of writing, a bit of parenting, a bit of thinking and some book reviews

Own your motherhood


My thoughts for today are about feminism and mothers who work out of the home, and a mistake that a lot of us are making. I thought about it as I listened to a mother telling a story of how she had been trying to keep an afternoon open on her son’s birthday, and colleagues kept trying to make appointments in the time.

“I told them that I was busy,” she said. “But they kept asking me what I was doing. It’s none of their business what I am doing.” She was incensed.

The question that I asked is why we do this – act as if doing something in our capacity as mothers is some dirty little secret. We’ll tell our bosses that we are going to the gynae or doctor, but we’ll gloss over the school concert or the teacher meeting or the birthday. And by doings so, we are buying into a dialogue that says that our family commitments are less important and somehow shameful.

I want to tell you two things. The first is that as a consultant, I don’t do this. I tell my clients that my children come first and when I can’t make a meeting, I tell them why. This is always met with respect and understanding – and I would hazard that this is because it is clear that I expect respect and understanding.

The second thing is that I don’t think that men cower around pretending to have vague appointments when they take time off for family. “I’m off to little Johnny’s concert,” Mr CEO will say. And the reaction will be admiration for what an involved and caring father Mr CEO is. Nobody will question his commitment to his job – nor should they.

When we lie and apologise on matters of family, we do our families and our role as mother a disservice. We are adding to the idea that a family commitment is not an acceptable possession for a career driven person.

Own your roles. Own your family. Wear your many hats with pride. Only when we respect ourselves for putting our children first can we expect the same from others.


4 thoughts on “Own your motherhood

  1. Ooh Gail. A subject so close to my heart that it became my book! Not sure if you seen it (write under Niki Malherbe so I am a duel entity) but your sentiments resonate so strongly with me. Working from home and especially with children is down- graded to working as a “hobby”, or “dabbling” and so YES, I agree. We need to stand together and be proud of our status as MOTHER first and then whatever else comes our way ! Thanks for the sentiments. Enjoyed.

  2. I agree that it is a women’s issue more than a man’s issue. My husband very openly takes time off when the kids have an event and it never met with resistance. We must keep our families at a higher priority level than our jobs. Well written.

  3. Your book is very much on my TBR pile 🙂 !

  4. Love this post, Gail, and couldn’t agree more. I once even took my baby to a meeting (he slept quietly in the corner) because I wanted to try normalize the family-work dynamic.

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