On Being a Working Mom and Provost

I am the mother of five children, ranging in age from 15 to 20 years oldI am also a provost and senior vice president of a large university. Being a “power mom” comes with a host of unique challenges requiring skilled navigation to ensure no one part of my life overtakes the other. It is acknowledging the ebb and flow - that sometimes my work takes precedence and other times my family, depending on the situation. 

I enjoy my job immensely and get great personal satisfaction from it. I crave intellectual stimulation and thrive on day-to-day ambiguity. I also love my children, but I realized early on in my life that to be the best mother I could be, I needed to be in an environment that allowed me to pursue my growth as a professional. This meant prioritizing my needs as an individual and making peace with “mommy guilt.” It also meant accepting and letting go of the day-to-day minutiae of my children’s lives. I was never the mom who attended sports games, played dolls, or volunteered in my childrens classrooms. But I was the mom who taught them how to do laundry, cook, clean, problem-solveand drive. I opted out of family trips to Disneyland for trips to China, Germany, and Greece. 

I have been lucky enough in my career to work for great bosses who supported me as a working mother. In my job as provost, I make sure to pay it forward to all working parents. I do not subscribe to the idea that women should be expected to work like they do not have children. I am transparent with my teams and my family – I do not have all the answers. Professional and personal lives should co-exist, and today’s technology supports this. My husband and I regularly participate in group texts with the kids throughout the day. I FaceTime them when I travel. My children use the apps SnapChat and BeReal to show me glimpses of their days, and we have a shared Google Drive that keeps the family on track witcalendaring, documents, and homework. 

It is true that working moms still shoulder most household and family responsibilities even if they have a supportive partner. And this does not include the mental load representing women’s invisible labor in any family unit. There is no easy or quick solution to this. For me, I have worked on overcoming my need for control and perfection and try hard to practice self-compassion. I am only one woman. And am I a perfect mom? No, and I am not trying to be. 

Constance St. Germain, EdD, JD
Provost | SVP Academic Affairs, Capella University
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Comments on "On Being a Working Mom and Provost"

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Amy Rell - Monday, April 17, 2023

Talk about a topic I identify with. I find it so comforting to read about other professional women and how they manage work and family. Thank you very much for sharing, Constance. It has inspired me to write something similar on my experience. You are a supermom (and super provost)!

Gail F Baker - Wednesday, March 01, 2023

Thank you for this great insight! So many are juggling parenthood and work during these challenging times. Appreciate your perspective.

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