The Salesforce Community and Motherhood Clash

This morning I had a conversation with a man, concerning work and Salesforce-related events and how they stand with regards to family time. It was a simple chat, which stayed with me all day. I feel compelled to discuss it with you, dear reader, but first, I must paint you a picture.

I’m divorced from my daughter’s father and we have an arrangement that enables us to share her care 50/50. My husband is not the first to say that when I have my daughter, I should be focusing my priorities 100% towards her. I agree, but sometimes it’s not that easy. I have her for a week, then he has her for a week. She is thriving in this arrangement and has the same experience with both of us as a result.

I’m trying to bring Mollie up to understand that it’s important to have something you love in your life; that there is a point to going to school and learning about things so that you don’t end up qualified for something you don’t want to actually do. So that you gain satisfaction from each achievement you have in your working life; so that you can support your family AND do something you care about.

Mollie knows how into Salesforce I am; she even takes part to some degree. She LOVES the stickers, toys and clothing we bring home from the various events we go to. She is aware of it as a brand and knows that it’s something Mummy and Chris both do; if she’s interested enough one day, perhaps I’ll see if she wants to get into Trailhead. She is motivated by reward and achievements, like her mum, so I think she’d like it.

Salesforce Supermums

I attended a fantastic event at Salesforce Tower in London – celebrating the one year anniversary and successes of the Salesforce Supermums programme, run by Heather Black, MD of a consulting partner called Economic Change. They work with Salesforce.org to deliver Salesforce projects to charities. I absolutely loved the event; they had some great speakers in – the wonderful Louise Lockie and Ines Garcia, Salesforce MVPs fresh off the plane from Dreamforce, John Belo, Director of ISV Technical Enablement at Salesforce, one of the amazing supermums who graduated from the programme this year and an inspiring presentation from an SE called Julian Cooke, who talked to us about the benefits of Einstein for Sales Cloud. So I learnt a lot and met some great people who are really making a difference. I want to join them in doing so.

It starts with you…..

It’s true, it really does. I was guilty of using my family as an excuse not to get as involved as I would like to with the Salesforce events: “I can’t go, I’ve got Mollie.”. Then wistfully reading the tweets about how great they were and how much people learnt. I’m a genuine fan; I hear all the time about people – mostly male colleagues – who are often fathers themselves – going to user groups, travelling for work trips 1+ week at a time, off to Dreamforce etc. etc.. In 2016 I went to Tony Robbins’ inspiring keynote speech at Dreamforce and took one major thing away with me – it’s really your own fault if you don’t get involved. Be resourceful and make it work.

So this year I stepped my game up. I started to go nuts on certifications and set myself a new goal – to reach CTA by the end of 2018. I started the Ladies Be Architects group in the Salesforce success community, to bring like-minded women together to support, mentor, encourage and celebrate each other’s successes in that common goal. I want to start getting involved in the user groups and being more active in supporting my fellow Salesforcers – I’ve been doing it quietly for 10 years now; time for things to get more interesting.

So what’s the big deal?

All of that’s great – yes, well done, you’re getting involved at last. So why so glum? Well, it started with logistics. Events are events; they have a set date and you can’t control that. This event date happened to fall on a Mollie week, from 6pm till 8pm. This is just normal life stuff; what’s been stopping me from getting involved in events is exactly that – unfortunate timing (and excuses). Actually, I guess cancer plays a role in that too, but that was out of my control, C’est la vie.

However, I have adequate support at home, so I asked her dad to collect her from the childminder, give her tea, do homework and my husband would collect her when he finished work and put her to bed. No issues whatsoever; I went to the event and got home at about 9 pm after she was asleep. I even joked about being such a “Supermum” that my kid was being minded while I was there. It was wrong of me to do that, really, since her dad and stepdad have as equal a responsibility for her as I do.

Stigma

The conversation I had with my husband in the car the next morning was the thing that bothered me. His point was that I need to appreciate that I have a child and need to be home and present for her when she is with us. It just means I can’t go to any work events when I have her. I both agreed and disagreed with this statement. I know there are plenty of people around who get this from their husbands and wives, too. As I said earlier, you have no control over event dates.

Yet is it me, or does it sometimes seem easier for men to engage in evening events at work because of a deeply-buried hangover from the New Right? As a mother, am I putting pressure upon myself because I feel like I’m doing something bad by staying out after work for a career event, even though childcare is covered? Are the decisions I make to engage with my career really so bothersome when they occasionally clash with family commitments?

Even despite this new emphasis on equality – and believe me, there’s a big value placed on it within the Salesforce community – I felt uncomfortable. If she can one day see I’m not with her tonight because I am doing something that is important to me, it doesn’t mean I don’t miss her, but I am trying to live those principles. I am a mother, yes, but I am also an independent person, with a great career, part of a wonderful community of people, and I want to take part in that.

I would love to discuss this with other working people who love what they do. Please tweet me your thoughts @gemziebeth.

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