Escaping the ‘Invincible Mom’ Trap

I thought successfully juggling parenthood and my career meant never showing vulnerability

Francesca Tripodi
Forge
Published in
6 min readJun 18, 2019

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Credit: Malte Mueller/Getty

In one of my first interactions with the chair of my department, he mentioned that if I ever needed to, I could bring my kids to work with me. He’d had young kids when he started his job, he told me, and he knew firsthand that between sick days and snow days, kids were bound to show up in your office at some point. I wasn’t supposed to be invincible.

His comment wasn’t delivered like a bombshell, but it felt like one. During my time as a graduate student, I had literally hidden my kids from my workplace environment. I didn’t ever share my pregnancy news with my colleagues; instead, I just waited for my growing belly to lead people to their own conclusions. Even after my children were born, I was careful not to bring them up in conversation or take them with me to events, sensing that acknowledging the demands of parenthood would, in some of my colleagues’ eyes, somehow make me a less committed academic.

The year my son was born, I was reminded in my year-end review that I still needed to be publishing at the same rate as my peers, despite going back to work five weeks after my son was born because my institution provided no maternity leave for graduate students at the time. When I was…

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Francesca Tripodi
Forge
Writer for

Sociologist and media scholar studying Wikipedia, Google, and other participatory media platforms. @ftripodi / www.ftripodi.com