Apr 29 2021

On Being a Working Mom: Imposter Syndrome, Mom Guilt, Boundaries

By Meta Careers
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"Chanel standing outside, holding her two daughters.."
Chanel enjoying some quality time with her two daughters.
“Since becoming a mother four years ago, I have 10 times more appreciation for my mother and grandmother. My grandmother managed parenting during a time when mothers weren’t able to be as open about the challenges we all face,” says Chanel D., a California-based program manager and mom of two young daughters.
Whether returning to the workforce after maternity leave to finding balance or setting boundaries, every mother’s journey is unique. And while having a full-time career and caring for a family can be difficult for many working parents, motherhood can also be an incredible teacher—empowering women to be more transparent, resilient, and confident in their careers.
“Motherhood has motivated and strengthened me in ways I couldn’t have imagined,” Gina B., a recruiter in Dublin, Ireland, explains. “It’s amazing how being a mom has taught me how to navigate challenges in all realms of my life.”

Acceptance and grace

Gina remembers feeling uncertain when returning to work after having her second daughter. “When I had my first daughter, motherhood felt amazing and it was a huge change in my life. I was 26 at the time, and I was able to take a step back to focus on being a mom. I matured and I grew quickly. But when we had our second daughter three years later, it was much more difficult.”
“Things got very busy for my husband and me, and we were tired. Navigating mother guilt has always been one of my biggest challenges, especially over the last year while working from home with my 3-year old and 6-year old. Cherishing my role as mom and pursuing my passion at work can feel like managing two-full time jobs. It’s easy to fall into thinking about how I could do better or more in either role.”
Carolina T., a vendor operations director in São Paulo, Brazil, echoes Gina’s feelings. “I became a mom a bit later in my career, at 37, after going through two rounds of IVF,” she shares. “I quickly learned that many working moms have a constant feeling of wanting to push ourselves. I think some of us feel like we don’t deserve things, while others may struggle with imposter syndrome. But I’ve done a lot of reflecting over the last year and I can see how motherhood has taught me about acceptance and giving myself grace. This goes a long way at home, and at work as well.”
Gina reflects, “I have more empathy in my work and I’m more resilient now. I’ve even noticed that I’m more nurturing while coaching my peers or mentoring others. These positive changes only came to the surface after I became a mother.”
"Gina and her daughters in a forest."
Gina spending time in nature with her two daughters.

Becoming a strong advocate

Chanel remembers wondering how she would parent while building a career she cares deeply about. “I felt nervous after having my second child,” she admits.
But after returning to work following her maternity leave, she was surprised to find a strong source of support in her manager. “She’s been a true ally, which is something I hadn’t experienced elsewhere,” she explains. “When I came back to work, she helped me see I had the power to ask for what I need. She told me directly, “We really want you to be here, so tell us what you need,’ which I’ll never forget. Having her on my side opened my eyes as to what was possible for me in my career.”
Since that day, Chanel says she’s wholeheartedly embraced transparency to become her own advocate. “My daughter has walked into meetings, and I unapologetically breastfeed my one-year old during meetings while I’m off-camera,” she shares. Motherhood has also inspired Chanel to become a champion for other moms, helping them understand how parenthood can be empowering—rather than limiting—during their career journey. “It’s a huge compliment when other parents tell me, ‘You parent loudly, thank you’,” she beams.
"Yein Mei sitting at a restaurant with her husband and daughters."
Yein Mei with her husband and two daughters in a restaurant.

Prioritizing what’s most important

Work/life flexibility looks different for many parents after returning to work. While adjusting to a new routine is a common challenge, uncovering new ways to get things done and stay organized can be a superpower.
“When you’re a working parent, you learn to be more intentional about how you spend each moment,” Yein Mei., a Benefits Lead in Singapore, offers. “Over the last year especially, I’ve discovered a new kind of flexibility to manage my schedule and deliver impactful work.”
Like Yein Mei, Carolina credits motherhood for her ability to “ruthlessly prioritize”—which helped her earn a promotion last year. “I’ll be the first to admit that finding the time for different initiatives during the day can be really tough,” she says. “But I’m part of the Parents Club here in Brazil, which is an active Workplace group. I turn to other parents for tips, and I share what I’m feeling and experiencing too. Learning how to prioritize my work and set healthy boundaries is a common challenge many of us share, and connecting with other mothers has given me a sense of community while helping me grow in my career—and as a parent.”
Yein Mei agrees. “Thanks to my daughters who are 11 and 14, and my role as their mom, I’ve learned how to set much better boundaries and be more open about what I’m going through. Saying ‘no’ at work has always been one of my biggest challenges, but motherhood has taught me how to thoughtfully prioritize what’s most important. I communicate more clearly with my team to get our work done, and I’m more intentional about the time I spend with my family at home.”
"Carolina with her daughter in a field of sunflowers."
Carolina and her daughter.

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