Take risks to be your true self at work

I intuitively knew to hide my kids when I started having them, because I had already had a rip-roaring career where I steered clear of women who doted on their kids. (It’s always women, even today.) The kids were annoying to me. I couldn’t understand why the women would lose focus on their jobs to get stupid about their kids.

I made sure to stay in male-dominated departments so as to not get sucked into the kid thing by proximity.

I made sure to take no maternity leave. (A terrible decision, but one that many women make.)

Even with all my precautions, my editor suggested that instead of writing a workplace column I should write a women’s column.

That suggestion pissed me off — but I just vowed to hide my kids more.

I have written many posts about how important it is for gay people to come out of the closet at workThey earn more money, for one thing, because if you are your true self at work people like you more, and likable people earn more money. But of course this does not apply to women with kids. There is no grand study that says if you are your true self you make more money. There are only studies that say women’s true selves are working part time while they have kids.

On my blog, for years, advertisers paid to reach people at work, so I had to be careful to steer clear of parenting topics. Professionals have been harder to find online than moms, so I get paid more money to separate myself from moms.

Did you ever notice how much art is on this blog? Like this and this? It’s because I’m scared to put too many pictures of my kids here. Maybe someone is counting and there’s a tipping point when advertisers will banish me to the world of mom blogs.

And did you see that photo of that New York City elevator shaft up top? It’s a secret museum. Heres’ the inside:

I like that I found a photo of a hidden museum to use as a way to hide my motherhood on a post that most obviously should have a photo of me and my kids. If Italio Calvino is getting credit for the deconstructionism of the realist novel, then I want credit for the deconstruction of the realist blog post.

But it gets old, trying to hide that I’m a mom. And trying to hide that I’m torn between work and kids. It’s clear to me now that I’ve been having a five-year identity crisis while I pretended to write about my own career as if it’s not affected by my kids.

I’m done with that. But I still get nervous doing anything kid-related in a business setting. Even if someone else is talking about kids, I stay quiet.

Last week I was writing a blog post about Geoffrey James’ new book, Business Without the Bullsh*t, and I asked him to send me a photo of himself.

He sent this one.

And I thought, “Wow, that is a really terrible photo,” so I asked for a non-headshot-y one.

Then he sent me this one of him and his kids:

And I immediately liked him. I like him better with his kids. I respect him more for what I know he’s having to manage at work and at home to write a book, have a job, and take care of kids. Here, he looks more vulnerable and more real. And I think probably I look that way, too, when I let people really see me.

The biggest barrier to homeschooling is not that parents don’t get it. They get it. Parents are not stupid. They know school is sucking and they know their kids would rather be at home doing stuff they love. But parents are scared of devaluing themselves by becoming the person at work who lets their kids take over their life.

We don’t value that. Which sets up childhood and adulthood as competing interests. Parents cannot have fulfilling (career-based) adulthoods if they are affording their kids a charmed (home-based) childhood.

If we can start celebrating parents when we see them at work, we’ll all feel more able to make choices that are true to us at our core, and not just true to our desire to conform to historic icons of power at work. After all, the only alternative to being true to ourselves is to feel like a human version of that museum: boring and outdated on the outside, but vibrant and alive inside, with almost no one seeing or even knowing what’s there.

59 replies
  1. chris
    chris says:

    I think you are more likely to TRUST a person who is pictured cheek-to-cheek with their kids, as well.

    I wonder, do you foresee that you will have to “hide” your kids when you decide to have kids? If the answer is “yes,” why have kids to begin with?

    • Karen
      Karen says:

      Chris — Folks see you differently when you have kids. Plain and simple. If you’re at work, you’re supposed to be working. If you constantly say, I have to leave early because of my children or can we not do xyz meeting that day because I have something to do with my kid, it looks like you are focused more on your kids than your job? It’s the same as a single person walking up to the boss and saying, “Sorry I was late. I am hung over from partying last night and a one night stand.” Talk too much about your personal life — whether your a parent or a wild single — and risk professional penalty.

      • Angela
        Angela says:

        Karen, your reply angers me. I understand your general reasoning and taboo of speaking about personal things at the workplace. However, being more focused on kids is not “the same” as a single person being hungover. This ideology could be what’s wrong with the workplace. Raising a child in a nurturing environment takes real commitment and hardwork, along with TONS of rejection. Being an irresponsible, alcoholic type, single-person (your example) is not “the same.” Please don’t compare the two.

        • Karen
          Karen says:

          Angela — I’m gonna take you on here. You are the one making a judgement about single people being hung over. I’m a mother who must drive 45 minutes to an office for her job five days a week. I get it. It’s a constant juggle. But I’ll tell you this. When I was single, working parents always looked at me and said, you can work weekends, overnights, night shifts because you don’t have kids. There was this assumption that I had to make the professional compromises for their personal choices. Today as a mother, I realize sometimes I can’t go as hard and as fast as I want to because I decided to have a child. My choice, my child, my responsibility. This is a sidebar anyway. The point was talking about your personal life too much at work comes with a cost. And I’ve got a family to support, so I’m mindful of how I pay that price.

          And PS — a single glass of red wine is enough to have me hung over these days.

          • Angela
            Angela says:

            I’m glad you chose to clarify, because the first comment was not so clear. I think we are both agreeing on the general point of talking personal life at work comes at a cost. I am a working mother of 2. I come in before sunrise to be home when the kids get out of school. My husband takes them to school in the morning and works later in the day. It’s a sacrifice. As a single person, I worked longer hours because I wanted to, even when I was hung over. The biggest take on work-life balance is to go with what works for your own family and quit judging others for what they do or don’t.

      • Melissa
        Melissa says:

        I didn’t read what you wrote as offensive to single people. I thought you made a fine point about when ones kids interfere with work it’s seen as just as irresponsible as when ones partying also interferes with work.

    • Melissa
      Melissa says:

      I really hate the implication that having a child is irresponsible because the raising-kids-lifestyle doesn’t fit with current work norms. In that scenario, only really rich people are “allowed” to procreate.

      In darker moments, it seems like a really underhanded way to undermine our reproductive rights.

  2. Mark
    Mark says:

    I got here late in the game. I’ve been reading off & on for about a year.

    I’ve thought of you as a real person with a spouse, kids, ups & downs, city-gone-country life who kinda has a kickass career in your rear view.

  3. Karen
    Karen says:

    I read the other day that you are the 5 people you spend the most time with. I spend more hours at the office than with my young child but when I am with her, I am often playful, sweet and affectionate. She is an only. The personality of our relationship just naturally spills over into my workplace. I’m warmer to my colleagues these days. My daughter gets more one on one time with me than anyone at the office ever does. I’m guessing when she is an angst ridden tween or a pain in the neck teen, I’ll become a bigger jerk at the office.

  4. Alexis
    Alexis says:

    Take risks to be your true self at work? Hmmm…I have a shameful regency romance habit. Should I be sharing this at work or would it simply mark me as an intellectual lightweight? But truthfully I don’t think your post is really about being your true self at work. It’s about the eternal hunt for integration. You want to be the cool homeschooling farm-mom who also successfully runs businesses, tackles intellectual challenges, and has enough cash to do cool stuff. Frankly in this you are entirely my hero. But integrating those disparate personas is challenging.

    So why not put your kids in the photos. What’s the worst that can happen? Advertisers won’t judge you (or even notice) based on how many times your photos appear on your site. They’re looking for exposure. And if you’re right, and people will like you better if you’re pictured with your kids, then your exposure will go up.

    Dear God, I have just written the longest most rambling comment of all times. Apologies.

    • Penelope Trunk
      Penelope Trunk says:

      That’s funny. People always used to say to me in graduate school what will you write about when you stop throwing up all the time.

      This is such a fundamental question, really. It’s who will you become next. We should all ask ourselves this question. But I have a feeling none of us really knows til we get there.


  5. GregV
    GregV says:

    Great post overall. I agree with the authenticity point, but there’s a big difference between being authentic at work as a parent and as a gay person. It’s still entirely legal in most states in the US to fire someone solely for being gay. You can’t do that to a mom.

    My second point is more of an observation. People (especially moms) tend to be treated differently once they have kids because they change their personal brand. You’ll see this on social media — women whose profiles once just held a photo of themselves switch to photos of themselves with babies, or just the babies. The instant you look at a profile of a smart, accomplished woman and see a picture of a toddler with a mud pie, your first thought isn’t about how smart and accomplished she is. Your first thought is, she’s a mom.

    As you’ve pointed out, different people have different perceptions of what it means to be a parent. So some of us will see the photo, think “she’s a mom,” and have a positive association; others won’t. I disagree that a photo with a kid automatically makes a person more relatable. I think posting a photo with a kid means you’ve changed how you see yourself — which means others will change how they see you. It doesn’t guarantee relatability. It just guarantees a change.

  6. Carmen
    Carmen says:

    I’ll never forget this conversation I had with a woman I worked with for about 10 years. We both started going through a difficult time, hers more difficult than mine, and I didn’t want to burden her any more than necessary. We both agreed, deep down, that I needed to go somewhere else.

    I told her where I was going to go and who I was going to be working with and she said:

    “Carmen, they don’t know you. They won’t care about you. This is an awful business to be in, and they’ll come to their own assumptions about you. They’ll just take advantage of you because they won’t understand why you are the way you are.”

    I thought that was preposterous. They’ll get to know me. I’ll bring my people over. Everything will be fine.

    She was right.

    I think in certain circumstances it doesn’t matter how hard you try to show people the real you. They don’t want the real you. They want their preconceived notion of you.

    • chris
      chris says:

      This comment adds the dimension of your work “culture” to the debate. What is your work culture? Supportive of individuals, of family life? Supportive of competitiveness?
      Supportive of micro-management? Supportive of flexibility? I notice that nobody has named the profession of nursing as a work environment/culture that favors parents/kids. In nursing, I have found that parenting and kids is a constant in conversations. (Yes, we are still mostly women . . . thus) Everyone, or nearly everyone , understands that the professional nurses want to be there for their kids. They want to raise their own kids as much as possible. They work odd shifts so that they can raise their kids. There is part-time work, self-scheduling for nurses. Nurses invoke FMLA when their kids are sick. There is an on-call person available in many settings, in case you have to leave abruptly and pick up your sick or injured kid from school. And the talk in the break room is often about one’s kids.

      • redrock
        redrock says:

        sorry – but I have to ask: what about a nurse who does not have kids? There are a lot of special things for nurses with kids and family – but it does seem like the person without kids (by choice or by biology) is firstly, not part of the club and community, and secondly, their needs are not on anybodies radar.

        • chris
          chris says:

          It is hard to generalize about the nurses who don’t have kids. It would be good if they could speak for themselves . . . But I will try to make an educated guess and say what I have seen over my 22 years in the hospital: those nurses often do not YET have kids–but they are planning on it and have gotten into nursing knowing about the flexibility. Those nurses without kids are quite invested in their extended family–they are aunties who do things with their nieces and nephews. Those nurses also do extra for families of their patients, it seems to me. They do extra for their fellow nurses, as well. Because they want to–they are inclined that way–not because management mandates them to do so. For example, one male nurse used to take his dad out to breakfast every weekend. One nurse used to keep in touch with families after discharge. One nurse calls herself “Auntie” on her Facebook page. Etc. Depending on your nursing unit and how inclusive it is, you can be part of the community. It may depend more on an individual’s personality–her/his outgoingness–than upon that of being childless.

  7. Chris Yeh
    Chris Yeh says:

    It’s tougher for women than men to be authentic about family at work. As I recall, married men actually get a wage premium, since they’re seen as more reliable, more responsible, and need to support their families.

    In contrast, I do think women face discrimination. Part of this is the assumption that parenting is less time-intensive for men than women. I’ve always violated this expectation, since for much of the kids’ childhood, my office was closer to school than my wife’s, and my schedule generally more flexible. I got used to being the only dad at numerous events.

    That being said, few people would advise homosexuals to hide their true self to advance their career; at some point, you have to be who you are, and damn the consequences.

    There’s a reason why the main photo on my personal web site shows me with my entire family!

    • Penelope Trunk
      Penelope Trunk says:

      Thanks for making really good points, Chris. And yes, it is true that men earn more money after they have kids – and women earn less. So I guess it is harder for women than men to talk about kids at work.


    • Jake
      Jake says:

      The old chicken or the egg question…

      Life events help drive career attitude changes. Getting married, buying a home. and/or having children will do it.

      Take the guy that was only interested in working his 40 hour week so he can enjoy his free time. Put him in relationship with a kid on the way. Getting promoted, getting pay increases, getting overtime & etc has become more important.

  8. Kathleen Donchak
    Kathleen Donchak says:

    I thought differently about working and motherhood before I became a mother, or did I? Was it that when you have children you cannot hide who you truly are and one world begins to color the other? I love the photos of your life. It brings the complexity of you to light. Bravo!

  9. Ngaire Blankenberg
    Ngaire Blankenberg says:

    This is a great post. I think we also need to take risks at ‘home’ to be our true selves. How often are mothers together at birthday parties, sporting events, school functions etc and all we ever talk to each other about are our kids and our relationships. Often I try to broach another topic relating to what I spend a huge amount of my time doing at work, or politics, or the world in general, and the mothers look blank and change the subject. And then I go find the fathers because (don’t tell anybody) sometimes I get bored talking about my kids. My big wish is that in our parenting time, we be acknowledged and engaged with as career people with interests outside the family, and at work, we are acknowledged and engaged with as people with interests outside of work!

  10. Jenn
    Jenn says:

    Be your true self at work?
    I get what your saying and I understand the importance of professionalism. I am aware that society not only undervalues parenting, there is no value in it. Which is why family life is left over time and crammed in. It’s why parenting magazines preach about quality not quantity time with your kids. But, I honestly think that some my be missing the bigger picture. Life is about relationships and interactions with those you love. The work and the hobbies are the filler. You are playing a game with the internet to keep your blog flowing to the audience you want. That is smart. I do not hide being a mom, but I also do not enjoy hanging out with a room full of moms either. I don’t like hanging out with a room full of anyone. I think I can be my authentic self everywhere. I am a self employed woman, who works from home, a parent, wife, and home educator. Do you know what the internet thinks of me? On just about every site I visit, I see ads for Lands End, because that is where I shop for my kids, and it floods me with ads for women’s retreats and depression medicine and therapy. I’m not depressed. But that damn Google algorithm thinks it has us all figured out. You should write an article about how screwed up that algorithm is. That is why you have to hide your role as a parent from the internet. It’s that algorithm! :-)

  11. Tracy
    Tracy says:

    Really interesting, thought-provoking read. And I like Alexis’ phrase about the ‘eternal hunt for integration’ – I’ve traditionally been very bad at that and only recently trying to be ‘myself’ or the same self in different situations… and that was even before kids appeared on the scene.

    Re the kids things, there are definitely different rules for men – they get lots of mileage out of it. Having said that, not long ago, I was at a work tech event and one of the speakers had a slide with a photo of his kids. After the speeches I went to talk to him and grilled him about his kids only to be disappointed that he was a ‘some-evenings and special events’ dad. I tend to be (unfairly) pretty judgemental off the parents (especially dads) who I feel are doing lipservice parenting – I judge by number of nappies changed, no of days taken off to look after sick kids, etc… Should probably try to stop that.

    Working in a male-dominated field I’ve always been wary of the kid thing, but would love to not have to overthink it each time. I feel like the tides are changing – I mentioned my kids at the end of a recent new client meeting and got instantly more warmth as I discovered the (male) client also had kids the same age.

  12. Sharon McGuire
    Sharon McGuire says:

    This was a very interesting post. I like it when you integrate your private life into your business posts. Balance is a continuing challenge for every adult.

  13. Darja Wagner
    Darja Wagner says:

    would be great if you sometimes expand on the last sentence and being a “human museum”.
    you say: “…the only alternative to being true to ourselves is to feel like a human version of that museum: boring and outdated outside and vibrant inside but ALMOST NOBODY knows the inside is there…”
    this almost nobody part i find tricky…if one lets too many people know what’s inside, carreer suffers…if too few, it is a proven way to depression and anxiety…who is almost nobody and how many of them should know?

  14. GE Miller
    GE Miller says:

    You know, it’s funny, I think I know a lot more about you and your family than I do about your professional life, contrary to what your article suggests you think.

    Your last 2 posts have been excellent and very authentic and this makes me think that your best career/writing focus (at this moment) may be to brand yourself as the “Un-Sandberg”. LEAN. THE. F. OUT. It’s what people want/need to hear. And is there ever an audience for it.

    • Emily
      Emily says:

      Wait, that’s not what the point, as far I understand it. The way I read this article is that the duality of work vs life is a myth and that everyone has work and life and that the only way men have kept that in balance in the past is that a woman has kept it in balance for the family. Women don’t have that choice, so we have to accept our full selves, the professional half gives way to the authentic whole – thus transforming the way we see the work self all together.

    • Penelope Trunk
      Penelope Trunk says:

      I think this is good branding advice for me. Maybe not the point of this particular post, but thank you for the insight. It’s hard to get a big picture view of ourselves.


  15. Suzanne
    Suzanne says:

    I respect and admire you more after reading this post than any other post I’ve read from you in the 1.5 years I’ve subscribed to this blog. Thank you for writing it.

  16. Mauri
    Mauri says:

    Good article. As a freelancer and juggling two small children, I decided to skip the two personalities and market myself as a mom. My target market has come to appreciate it.

  17. Linda Lou
    Linda Lou says:

    The solution is to become part of the creative class….have a home based business….become an etailer….run a farm or other business kids can help with. Be in a place where you run your own life, and your kids are part of it all.

  18. maximyou
    maximyou says:

    If “deconstruction of the realist blog post” is or isn’t the cause for posting “school is sucking,” I don’t know (because you don’t say). Of course school is sucking.

    Parents are not stupid? There are times I’m overcome by doubt. Lemme put it this way: personally I have more proof for being a parent than for not being stupid [but that’s just me].

    As an ex-kid and now parent myself, I do agree, school sucks. Whether caused
    by intelligent parents scared of devaluing themselves, by the war between childhood and adulthood interests, or by the school master – suck it does.

    But your post makes me wonder what do you make of people who make schooling available for kids of parents not affording their kids a charmed (home-based) childhood?

    What of people who care about the availability of schooling for all kids, their own and those of other people?

    Home-schooling may well be the best alternative to schooling that sucks. But it is still schooling – and it doesn’t come with any guarantees. What if your home-schooling sucks? Maybe this is another thing that goes through a parent’s mind at decision time.

    • Penelope Trunk
      Penelope Trunk says:

      I’m a huge believer in making school available to everyone. But I want us to start being honest that school is a very very good, state-funded babysitting service. And we should leave that service for the families that really need it. Most families do not need it. They are capable of raising their kids without 8am – 3pm babysitting.


  19. jenX
    jenX says:

    Do you ever wish you’d grabbed hold of the mommy blogger train? Sometimes, I can’t believe I let it pass me by while my kids were so little. I needed the outlet as a parent, but I was so stuck in my own identity as a careerist. I felt like I’d be selling out if I had a mommy blog. So, I tried to walk this weird divide and it just wasn’t very successful. I have regrets about it all. I feel sad that I tried to hide the one thing I loved most about my life. Well, I hope I can fix it. I’ve been trying. The struggle is to not over correct. I’m just another blogger trying to find a voice that’s not too boring, not too shrill. The truth could have made me more successful, but it would have come at high price.

    • Penelope Trunk
      Penelope Trunk says:

      Well, I think the mommy blogger train is over. I mean, there is no advertising money left in that arena. So you can stop being sad that you missed it :)


      • Jim Grey
        Jim Grey says:

        I’ve been chewing on this thought. If the only kids in school come from families “who need it,” which I read to be lower-class families, then who pays the taxes necessary to fund that?

        I see this even now in my city. In the places where families need school as a babysitting service, anyone with means has fled and the remaining tax base really can’t support what is needed.

        • redrock
          redrock says:

          … the premise being that the middle class and upper family in terms of income is a haven for kids and that they are always thinking about their kids and the quality of their education and perfectly suited to give the best to their kids. I really do not think the correlation is that simple, and it is rather patronizing to say – well, the lower classes (whatever that is) they need the schools because they can;t give good things to their kids, and need to work. Many middle class families need two incomes and therefore need school for the same reason cited here for the “lower class”. If we, as a society, are so convinced that kids only flower if they are homeschooled (and I actually doubt this premise is entirely correct but lets go with it for the time being) then we the tax system has to be restructures in such as way to pay every SAHM a salary for 10 years or more until the last kid has reached their teen years. And that would severely restrict a woman’s choice of life path.

  20. Brian_87!
    Brian_87! says:

    Hey Penelope,
    What I really appreciate after reading this is your honestly; you have guts to accept that career has been a priority for you. There is nothing wrong in being dedicated with work and I am sure you are also not a bad mom ( the concern is well reflected). May be that kind of honesty is not appreciated when it comes from a lady…from a mommy but it has to be saluted as being working humans. Keep up the good work, your kids will grow up respecting their mommy :)

  21. laura
    laura says:

    It is interesting to me how this issue fits into the bigger changes in society. It seems easy to see why businesses should want to hire specialists who spend maximum time and energy working. It is easy to see how women with children are not those people. Zooming out, it seems equally clear that people are not engineered to be ideal workers. It seems unrealistic to act as though work should be the biggest factor in ourselves and our families rather than the other way around. But there is no institution in society to support or advocate for that. I feel like this problem is compounded by the fact that sooner or later, working will stop being an efficient model for most individuals to support their families. At that point, I hope we will have come up with institutions to actually help people be successful as people both in families and on their own.

  22. chris
    chris says:

    As I ponder this “duality” between work and family, I wonder . . . Freud said there was love AND work–two primary & powerful drives. To me discussion fits: there is love (of family/kids) and work. Our drive is to fulfill in each area, yes? Yet we assume it will often (or always) be one, either work or love, that will triumph. Maybe love will sometimes be more of a driving force in our lives; and maybe work will be more of a drive at other times in our lives. Yes?

    • Katherine
      Katherine says:

      Then Freud was an idiot who didn’t, for some reason, equate raising a family with work.

      Lots of kids = lots of work. Nowadays, most people don’t have lots of kids, so it’s more possible for both parents to have non-family work. But pre birth-control? Uh-uh.

      Stupid old men.

    • karelys
      karelys says:

      I have respect for Freud in the sense that he shaped centuries of how we appreciate mental health.
      But I don’t believe a lot of what he said to be truth.

      Personally, I think there are basic drives and most of our decisions emanate from that. The need for food, shelter, community. Those are powerful drives. We work and seek higher ranking and earning jobs because we want to feel powerful and admired. But we are torn between that and raising a good family and not just being detached from our kids all the time.

      Those two things don’t go very well together. At least not the way that the work environment is set up.

      Sometimes we stick to a horrible job because we deem it safe and predictable and good for our families. Even though they might be killing us inside slowly. We get home angry and unable to have a good connection with anyone.

      Carving a different route that will be better suited to your own family and needs can be excruciatingly hard. And scary. And you may be poor and not have retirement funds, health insurance, college funds. You may have nothing. But one thing is for sure. If you continue the way you are going you’ll end up somewhere you don’t want to be anyway. At least the alternative has possibilities.

  23. gayathri
    gayathri says:

    I just read your post ‘take risks to be your true self at work’ and I loved it. Because it cheered me up.
    I am a part time mom and a part time computer programmer. I love my job – if I gave it up I would be unhappy. Too unhappy.
    But I hate how the part time everything feels like I am doing nothing really really well. And I feel like I don’t have that time
    to do those things that made me feel happy on the inside. But when I don’t spend the little time I have for my kids with my kids
    I feel worse.
    So I just have to live with this life – of juggle. And the moments that I have cleared for my kids – I have to fight to keep absolutely clear.
    So though I am definitely boring and outdated on the inside. And not quite as vibrant and alive on the inside as I would want to be –
    at least I am trying – really really hard. All the time

    Now don’t respond to this. Its one less thing for you to do.

  24. Adrianne
    Adrianne says:

    I really like the last paragraph of this post.

    Although the focus of this post is parenting and its effect on professional lives, I think it raises the issue of the importance of being honest with oneself, in general. We spend a lot of time engaged in our professional lives – so it makes sense that the healthy thing to do is be as honest as we can with ourselves and about ourselves. Otherwise, we are wasting so much energy pursuing someone else’s idea of the “right way” to manage our professional lives (and, possibly, our lives, in general).

    I do not have children – but I can relate to the struggle to be really be myself in my professional life.

    Really appreciate this post – especially that last paragraph.

  25. Ralph Lee
    Ralph Lee says:

    A fantastic blog always comes-up with new and helpful information and while reading I have feel that this blog is really have all those quality that qualify a blog to be a good one.

  26. Dannielle Blumenthal
    Dannielle Blumenthal says:

    Hi Penelope,

    You know you are a brilliant writer. And I do agree with your overall point, that you should be yourself at work, at least to some extent.

    But these posts are boring. They are you, talking about the kinds of things you talk about in therapy as personal struggles, and turning them into some sort of lecture as a way of trying to convince yourself.

    It’s painful. I actually bought the book you recommended, and will read it. But I go to your blog to hear from you.

    Personally I don’t care whether you go to “work” or not or “work at home” or not or “homeschool” or whatever that means. Nobody else does either. I learned too painfully that workaholism is a family disease and that more work and more power does not make you a better or superior person. And that the more preoccupied you are with that kind of thing, the more you miss out on your life.

    Here is what I want to say, as someone who has read your blogs for so long, but is starting to get bored with them because they alternate good and bad. Please go back to writing your best kind of post, which is about the real-life difficulties you face.

    I loved the post about how you cannot drive for beans. All your posts about driving crack me up, because I totally relate.

    In fact, in the best of them I feel like I am with you in a car that is speeding on a highway, and we’re both in the front seat, and I’m looking through the windshield knowing that we are about to crash or go over a cliff.

    As I read, I know you’re not actually going to ram into a wall or jump the cliff. It’s the sense that I am standing very much in your shoes.

    Your best posts are like a really great story, except it is your life, or an imagined or sharply focused version of some moments of your life, and in viewing it I feel a sort of sigh of relief.

    And I think it’s because there is just something similar about the way you describe yourself, and the way I see myself, and I like to see that both that you are human and that you are so resilient.

    I’m a pretty loyal reader, so I’ll keep reading, probably. Just wanted you to know what I was thinking about this one.


  27. D
    D says:

    I’ve noticed that women often pick screen names to demonstrate their relationships: BillysMom, JohnsGirl, MrsMark. I rarely see men define themselves this way.

  28. Camielle
    Camielle says:

    I remember when older friends started having kids and their profile photo on their social media accounts contained them and their kids and thought. “I’d never use a photo of my and my kid as a profile pic.” I judged them thinking they must feel their children is their identity. Fast forward 3 years later and I’m that person and I’ve reaslised its not that you include your children in photos of you because the define you but because you’re just so proud and love your little people that you cant help want to show them off. Don’t be afraid to show off the things you love.

  29. Jery N
    Jery N says:

    While having kids can sometimes get in the way of your career, I think parents are one of the greatest people. They’re hardworking and responsible, and they know how to care for people. Here’s to all the hard-working parents out there!

  30. Amy Jo Lauber
    Amy Jo Lauber says:

    My favorite posts of yours are those that have pictures of your kids, or at least their boots, and about you being that rare breed of entrepreneurial mom.

    And I loved that, during your webinar, one of your kids needed you and you stopped to tend to him. That told me more about you than anything.

    Being our true selves is less about knowing and more about being, and committing to being (because not everyone will approve, support and/or accept our life choices, nor do they need to).

  31. Dale Watson
    Dale Watson says:

    I guess Geoffrey James asked for the photos to be taken down, or the link is broken/

  32. Johnykbd
    Johnykbd says:

    An incredible blog dependably thinks of new and accommodating data keeping in mind understanding I have feel that this website is truly have every one of those quality that qualify an online journal to be a decent one.

  33. Alicia Marseille
    Alicia Marseille says:

    Good god I love this post. Great article Penelope and I am even more elated to know that I am not alone in not liking to work among mainly women and that someone has written a no bullshit approach to business. It really has become my mantra (hence my homepage on sustainwe). People often think they can grow their business if they could only get more Facebook likes. WTH? Perhaps in some industries, but not nearly as many as people think.

  34. Anna
    Anna says:

    I absolutely love this! As a woman who is recently married I’m feeling the pressure. But I feel as though I’ve put myself in a work environment that promotes families. Fingers crossed I’ve set myself up for success!

  35. John Monitors
    John Monitors says:

    Incredible post, I never thought about hiding a huge portion of my life for fear of losing money. You did an excellent job of bringing the issue to light and I also really liked the part on homeschooling. I am forever grateful to my mother for giving herself so completely to me through homeschooling.

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