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Working Moms Need Independence From Self-Criticism

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WORK LIFE BALANCE
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"I'm not sure they will say that I've been a good mom."

That's a statement from one of the most powerful business women in the world Indra Nooyi, the Chairman and CEO of PepsiCo and the mother of two daughters.

It's a bit disheartening, but it's also something working moms tend to do: undermine their roles as mothers.

I got to thinking about this when I shared Nooyi's quote with my husband, and he said in response, "You don't hear guys saying, 'I really suck as a dad.'"

Clearly, Nooyi isn't saying she sucks, but she is saying she may have dropped the ball on mothering because of work, and she's saying women can't have it all.

Yes, we've heard this before from another powerful woman, Anne-Marie Slaughter, in her much acclaimed Atlantic piece by that title.

It's amazing why we have to keep telling each other this.

Life is about making sacrifices and about adapting to what life brings, depending on your choices, your dreams and aspirations, and your socioeconomic place in society.

As my boss and president of the Families and Work Institute Ellen Galinsky always beats into my head every time I mistakingly write the word "balance," there is no balance! It's life.

Recently, I visited a major manufacturing facility run by an employer trying to offer as much flexibility to employees as they can given the requirement that workers have to be onsite to do their jobs.

I had heard about their 24-hour day care facility and was eager to see it first hand. When I went to the day care center, however, the situation wasn't ideal. Working parents were able to have their kids onsite so they were able to spend more time with them, but seeing the little beds lined up in the sleeping room I realized the sacrifices these families were making to make a living.

These were great working moms and dads who were doing what they could to make a great life for themselves and their families. Clearly, they face tougher challenges than I or Nooyi, and it makes me a bit ashamed when I think about how I've whined about my work-life challenges.

Men are feeling the work-life pressure too these days, as research from Families and Work Institute has found, but you don't see them constantly disparaging their efforts and looking for approval from people who think it's a good idea to eat six donuts and a bag of Skittles in one sitting.

I asked my kids just now if I'm a good mother? They both annoyingly answered yes, and my daughter added, "I don't know. Why are you asking this question?" And the boy added, "That's a dumb question to ask."

Indeed, it is a dumb question to ask. They're going to think I suck as a mom sometimes and other times they'll think I'm great, but largely they won't think about this question either way.

Chances are Nooyi, Slaughter and I will be thinking about this way more than our kids, and that's because we're new age moms who think too damn much.

Why are working moms today still longing for the 1950s? Yes, we are or we wouldn't be criticizing ourselves so much based on the 1950s work model when women stayed home, for the most part, and dads brought home the bacon.

Let's all put some bacon on our hamburgers tomorrow and get over it already.