Note from the editor: Here’s yet another beautiful blog post shared on our intranet from one Intel employee to another. Regardless of if you have kids or not, I think we can all agree that being a parent is the toughest, yet most rewarding, job in the world. Throw in being a first-time parent and having an already challenging career, and you’ll get a feel for what life is like for many working parents. Jan, manager of the Internal Employee Communications team, wrote a heart-felt letter to one of her employees who just recently gave birth to her first child, sharing her first-hand experience of being a mother (of three) and successful Intel employee. In honor of Mother’s Day, we’d like to share the letter with you and wish all of the mothers out there a very Happy Mother’s Day!
True story. In 1993, I applied for a job at Intel. (Yes, I know you were about 12 then.) One of the people who interviewed me was an engineer. At some point, she asked me if I had children. Probably not an OK question, in retrospect, but I answered it.
She then explained to me that Intel was an intense, rigorous and demanding culture that was a much better fit for childless professionals like her and her husband, also an Intel engineer. It was not, she strongly suggested, the right place for a woman with two young children. Like me.
I took the hint, and the job at the other company.
Later, when I had another child, I figured I’d kissed any possible Intel future goodbye. If two kids were a disadvantage, surely three were a deal breaker.
Yet 20 years later, here I am, badge around my neck, accomplished AR tamer, seasoned slayer of acronyms. While Intel has indeed proven to be a demanding place to work these last seven years, it’s also, to my enormous relief, a generous and supportive environment where working mothers can thrive.
It’s been a place where I regained my financial footing after a divorce; a place where I’ve been privileged to know and work with people like you. A place where my detours as a stay-at-home mom and part-time employee haven’t kept me from a career path that has exceeded my expectations.
In just a couple of weeks, your maternity leave is going to be over. Instead of spending weekdays with your beautiful baby girl, you’ll spend them with co-workers (who, while less entrancing, have arguably better language skills). And even though you know she’ll be in good hands, I’d bet you’re dreading the transition from full-time mom to working mom. I know I did.
It won’t be easy. It’s not easy working at Intel, and it’s not easy raising a child. In both roles, we aim high and sometimes we stumble. We second guess ourselves something terrible. We are never quite caught up. We worry —oh boy, do we worry. Being a working parent means having good days when it feels like you have the best of both worlds, and bad days when it does not.
But it helps, a lot, that the Intel village you’re returning to is better equipped and more dedicated than ever to help you manage both your thrilling new role as a mom and the job you’re so good at. And your manager (moi) and your team are standing by to help in any way we can.
Your first Mother’s Day as a mom is this weekend; it’ll be my 25th (my firstborn even arrived on Mother’s Day). As I marvel—a little wistfully, a little been-there-done-THAT—at the adventure ahead of you, I can’t help but reflect on some stuff I’ve learned, mostly the hard way.
- Get over being Supermom. Fast. There aren’t bonus points—this isn’t that kind of a game. Ask for help when you’re overwhelmed, time when you’re short, a favor when you need it.
- Don’t wait for permission. Do what you need to do, and don’t apologize.
- Once you’ve survived a long flight with a screaming child, screaming stakeholders are a piece of cake.
- Email is eternal. Childhood is not. Seize the spontaneous moment with your child.
- Stay playful. If you turn into a stressball, everyone around you will be miserable too. During the rough patches, take a deep breath, exhale, and remind yourself that this too will pass. Shake it off, smile, laugh if you can. Then book a massage.
- Set boundaries. You will teach your child that no means no. This applies to managers and colleagues as well.
- You set the tone. If your daughter sees that you like your work, she will too. If you believe your work is simply time away from her, she’ll believe that too.
- Later, when she’s older, tell her about your challenges at work, and your wins. Let her feel, and share in, your pride. She’ll be proud too.
- There will be days when it will be impossible to be both the outstanding employee and the outstanding parent you want to be. It is. On those days, accept that good enough really is good enough.
- Take notes. When you’re immersed in parenting, you think you’ll never forget the daily routines, the frustrations and pleasures of every stage and age. You will.
- In your work life there will be tough periods and difficult co-workers. In your family life these are called “adolescence” and “teenagers.” You will survive both.
- Dinner. I never really solved this one. I am a fan of crockpots, however.
- You can be anyone’s employee. Only you can be your someone’s mom. Prioritize accordingly.
OK, one last story. One day when my daughter was about four years old, she was playing with some plastic animals. She marched them along the back of the couch where I was sitting. “You never know when pandas are going to come into your world,” she informed me.
How right she was.
Happy Mother’s Day, my friend. And welcome back—we’ve missed you!
Happy Mother’s Day to all moms! If you’ve got a tip for Krista or other new moms, please share it in comments below.