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Working Mom Dilemma: Be devoted to your work or your family? Apparently, it's your choice.

I am certain this blog title may cause me to lose readers if they don't keep reading. It suggests that I might believe that women have to make a choice of allegiance--of devotion--because career success is a function of devotion. It suggests that doing it all is impossible--unless you love your job enough. I'm not rehashing a topic I featured recently about "Whether Women Can Have it All", although that topic never gets old and has made some working moms millions...

Look it's not my opinion, it's the opinion of a new book by Joan Williams, a professor of law and director of The Center for Work Life at the University of California.

A Recent Book Says Employers Want Undying Devotion

This post isn't so much about the possible things a mom can do with her life as much as it is about the expectations that employers place upon her.  What the author of a recent book suggests is that employers want more from employees than their efforts between 9-5, or whatever the advertised commitment is. What employers truly want, but only some say out loud, is true, absolute, and faithful devotion.

However, does any working mom exchange vows with her employer?

If the author is right, that expectation reminds me a lot about traditional marriage vows:

"I, ___, take thee, ___, to be my wedded husband/wife, to have and to hold, from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death do us part, according to God's holy ordinance; and thereto I pledge thee my faith [or] pledge myself to you." Basic Protestant Vows, "The Knot"
We may have said vows at our weddings (or not if we got a "Self-Uniting" marriage--a topic for another day), we may have taken an oath to our profession, but most of us do not articulate vows as part of our standard employment--even if we have a contract. I am confident that working moms, even professionals, is to accept an employment relationship as a way to make a living, find intellectual fulfillment, and pay our mortgages. I don't know one who works because they wanted to express their undying devotion to their employer.

Quite frankly, I don't know if it is bad that most working moms don't have undying devotion for their employers. With all of the recent reorganizations, lay offs, and benefit cuts, many employers are less faithful than the most philandering husband ever was. Undying devotion would be akin to being a naive school girl. And we are too old for that s--t.

Employers Are Fickle, Working Moms' Devotion Belongs to Themselves

Hopelessly devoted to my kids

As an aside, I cannot think about the concept of devotion without thinking about the scene in Grease where Sandy sings about how she is "Hopelessly Devoted" Danny. That has to be one of the best songs in cinematic history because it nails the emotion that accompanies high school romance, there is an ache, a burning desire that amounts to being hopelessly devoted and that is a powerful thing.

You know I'm just a fool who's willing
To sit around and wait for you
But, baby, can't you see
There's nothing else for me to do?
I'm hopelessly devoted to you

I remember feeling that way in high school. However, I have been working a long time and I have never felt that way about my job. And I think that is OK.

I work hard every single day. I am also confident that I contribute more to my employer every day than it costs them to employ me. For that reason, I know that even absent undying devotion, working moms can, and do, contribute tremendous value to their employers every day. Contributing value should be the only measure that matters. Whether we are going through the motions or have our hearts in it shouldn't matter. Organizations should be focused on results.

The only relevant question should be whether working moms are producing. Our hearts belong to us. That said, given what employers seem to want, we should keep that to ourselves... SHHH!

Here's a link to the article:  Choose: Be Devoted to Your Work or Your Family

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