Local Gov Administering & Mothering

Posted on May 13, 2018

This guest blog is by Charlotte Colley, the village manager of New Concord, Ohio.

It’s my first day back to work after 6 weeks of maternity leave. Well almost 6 weeks…28 days to be exact. 28 days of exhaustion, pain, frustration, anxiety, cluelessness and the most deep rooted, soul-searing love for a tiny little person that you can imagine.
Today was just 4 hours and things went well overall. I was able to reconnect with co-workers, get a brief rundown on major projects, catch-up on some email, and figure out my breast pumping logistics. All while wondering how my little girl was doing, calling the preschool about an event next week, and remembering how this felt when I came back to work with my first baby who is almost 7 now.

I knew I would come back to work. I didn’t want to stay home. Not because I didn’t love my baby but because I really like my local government career.

I remember dropping my first baby off with the babysitter and hoping I was doing the right thing. I worried about what was waiting for me when I arrived at work. Would they even need me anymore? I had been gone for almost 8 weeks. Would I be treated differently because I was a mom now and couldn’t “live” at work? Would this impact my ability to get a promotion or be assigned “good” projects?
Back then, and today, I was greeted with open arms at the office. My co-workers were supportive and willing to accommodate my choices. I work hard to be efficient while at the office and it has paid off.

After coming back to work from having my first two children I did not have trouble taking the next step in my career or being awarded the choice projects. I earned them.

I am remembering all of this today as I drive from the new babysitter’s house to my office. I am thinking about this morning when I was able to get all three kids ready to go, pack t-ball gear for the boys, organize the baby’s bag and get myself ready and out the door on time and wondering if there is a more efficient way to do it. It’s spring so I am noticing grass that needs mowed and wondering if letters have been sent out yet. I am also remembering when I interviewed for my current position.
During the interview I looked at the former Mayor and two Council members on the interview panel, all men, and told them that my family came first, not my job. I made sure they understood that this was not negotiable and if they were still interested in hiring me that I wanted the job but if they had an issue with it then I was happy in my current role.

They respected what I said and offered me the job. Now it’s my job to continue to prioritize my family first while still effectively managing my community.

Being a mom and working a full time job in an industry is difficult. In local government my choice to be a mom and a Village Administrator is pretty public. There are lots of opinions on whether or not having three kids and working full time is a good idea. Maybe the kids should go to a different preschool. Maybe I need to scale back to part-time so I can focus on them more or maybe I should get my husband to stay home so I can give more to the community.

At the end of the day these are my decisions and I will make them based on what works best for my family.

I have slowly figured out how to balance Council meetings, t-ball practice, water infrastructure projects, weekend events, doctor’s appointments, snow and ice call outs, mommy guilt, personnel issues, dishes and laundry, peanut butter and jelly faces, and the list on both sides goes on and on. I have not perfected it but right now it works. The kids are happy and doing well, my husband and I have a pretty good relationship and my community is thriving. Ladies, I think we can have it all!
To all the moms out there dealing with similar issues just remember that you are doing a great job. You are serving your city/village/county/township well while keeping your children safe, happy, and growing. That’s a pretty big accomplishment!

The perspective that is brought to the table by working mothers is invaluable, don’t ever forget this.

On the flip side your children see their mother, a confident professional woman, “taking on the world” and doing amazing things for their community. This is helping to shape the next generations’ views and perceptions on mothers in the workforce. Hopefully in the future this will be easier for our daughters but right now we are blazing a trail for them.
It’s a bumpy, curvy trail and at times we may feel like we’re actually going backwards but that’s not true. We’re doing what is right for us, career-minded and intelligent women, as well as what is right for our families and we’re doing an amazing job!

Happy Mother’s Day!

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