The Myth that Keeps Working Moms Clinging to the Corporate Ladder

Kathleen Byars | May 6, 2017

MYTH: Working moms cannot redesign their career to favor motherhood without sacrificing everything they’ve worked so hard for professionally.

When I was working 50-60 hours per week my daughter was quite young. I asked her once why she had to be in school every day from 7:30 in the morning to 6 PM at night.

She replied, “Mommy, I have to go to school to learn!”

I was relieved to hear her words. Yet I found out many years later that she was simply parroting back to me what I was constantly telling her…and that despite all the time she got to spend with her school friends she secretly hated those long days away from me.

Feeling guilty about our time apart, I was constantly telling my daughter that she had to go to school all those hours each day in order to learn. In reality, I was simply assuaging my own guilt.

Of course, she HAD to learn so that someday she could grow up and be like me and get a GOOD job and be a SUCCESS…

…and in turn, have her own daughters who she would drop off at daycare for 10-12 hours per day while she worked.

Which is exactly what happened.

Today, my grown daughter works 50+ hours per week and her two little girls are in daycare. Even though they all miss each other a lot.

When I am asked what I would have done differently when trying to balance motherhood with my career the first time around, I always say that I would have worked less and mothered more.

And it’s not because I wasn’t a “great mom”. I led Girl Scouts. I brought homemade cookies to every school event. I threw epic birthday parties. I took my daughter with me on business trips all over the world.

Yet, I didn’t understand how to unwind the script in my head that told me I had to work full-tilt in order to be a success. I didn’t understand that I could have worked less and designed my career to spend more time with my baby girl, while still being a high level contributor and valuable asset to my employer.

Kathleen Garrett Byars with her daughter 1990s

Pic of my daughter and me circa 1990’s as we prepare for another day of work and school.

TRUTH: I wish someone had told me that I had the courage, talent, and capability to create a POWERFUL career that didn’t require long hours away from home and crazy, frenetic days racing from point A to point B.

TRUTH: And I wish I had known that the legacy I was leaving my daughter – the footprints I gave her to follow – meant she would in turn someday create her own unbalanced life…and miss out on the journey of a lifetime with her littles.

Today, the overwhelm of working parents is endemic. Seventy-five percent of all working families report less than a few hours of quality time per week with their kiddos. And while as a nation we are wealthier than ever before, surveys measuring our well-being shows that our contentment and satisfaction is plummeting. And yet, the same cycle repeats itself over and over until someone stands up and says “enough”…my family is going to be different.

Can you relate?


I am inspired to help corporate moms be the professionals AND the mothers they want to be. We are elevating this critical topic of work-life balance for women in a new, private Facebook group. If you’re a corporate mom, please join us!

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