You, as a working mom, encounter unique challenges each and every day as you step out of your home and into the world. You are not alone, and we at Milk Stork have gathered a community of driven moms who have been there and done that, who are here to impart wisdom gained through years of experience.
In our Moms on a Mission series, we gather advice from women who have started companies, run marathons, become experts and evolved into both better employees and employers, all because they became parents.
Dr. Christine Corbett Moran, Technical Group Supervisor at NASA JPL
The battle between one’s work life and home life can be a tricky one, and it most definitely does not get any easier once you add a baby to the picture. Dr. Christine Corbett Moran is living proof that you can advance in your career while still providing the necessary care for your child.
In the 12 months since she became a mom, Christine has managed to write a technical book, a Master’s thesis and take Kung Fu classes, all while rising to supervisor at work. And not just any supervisor, we’re talking supervisor of the Cyber Defense Engineering and Research group at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. So if anyone is qualified to give advice on work/life balance, it’s Christine.
In a male-dominated field, Christine always felt like the underdog. She thought that in order to prove herself, she had to improve her skills. When in reality, she already not only belonged—she excelled. Christine ultimately chose to leave academia to work at NASA JPL, a place that has a history of promoting women. When she was stranded at the South Pole, she was the first ever Skype interview to be an Astronaut Candidate. Being a mom simply only upped her game even more.
“One thing that having the baby did do was encourage me to go for promotion” Christine recalls. If she was going to be away from her child, she at least needed a good reason to justify her absence.
“I love the bonding breastfeeding provides.”
Backed by a strong support system and a caring partner, Christine adjusted to work life at her own pace. While some try to simultaneously parent like they’re a stay-at-home and work like they don’t have children, Christine sought balance in how she managed the two. Upon returning to work, Christine took the process day by day, easing into her new schedule and taking active steps on how she could be there for her baby, like making periodic trips to the daycare during her lunch break. She also didn’t stress too much about things like not being able to go to the gym daily like she used to. Other things, like flying planes, she has yet to fit back into her life!
“I tell people that the baby is the easiest hard project I’ve ever managed.”
Christine is already dreading the day she breastfeeds for the last time. As someone who loves a good challenge, Christine strives to exclusively breastfeed, so she pumps while she is away in order to provide the same nourishment for her child as a stay-at-home mom would. She acknowledges that it’s hard to leave your baby and the logistics around pumping take time to master as well. But she cautions future moms to not be pressured to take on the entire workload. “I think a lot of professional women can fall into the trap of having it all but also doing it all. Having it all is fine. But if there’s a co-parent in the picture, they should be putting in the same sweat-equity into the baby. Don’t do it all.”