Kicking Suitcases


I just returned home from a brilliant women’s power luncheon at my Alma Mater, McGill University. It was a round table discussion with rotating mentors sharing advice on career, success and motherhood. Today I sat in as an invited guest, and not as a mentor. I wanted to pass on some simple words of advice that arose during the luncheon, and that truly resonated.

And then one that didn’t.

And then get your feedback.

On women missing out on opportunities that men simply do not

“As women, we often over-think and over-plan, and therefore often wipe out opportunities for ourselves. I’m a believer in Nike’s slogan “Just Do It.” I think we women have to over-think just a little less, and dive right in.”

On making decisions

“With time, as I’ve grown, I’ve learned to follow my instincts more. I make many big decisions in my life on instinct alone.”

On women doing the dirty work. Hint: It’s not such a bad thing

“I think it’s important for women to take on the tough mandates- the ones that others aren’t willing to take on. It’s how we grow.”

On career success

“Why do people always ask what the secret ingredient is to business success? It’s quite simple: You have to be willing to bust your ass. There’s no magic recipe… success takes a ridiculous amount of hard work, commitment and dedication, and over time, you will succeed. Not everyone wants to put in the work.”

I loved these little nuggets, and thought they were wise.

I also found myself sitting at my table, watching the women as they nodded in approval when one of the mentors said the following. While they laughed, I literally teared up and almost cried. It was a big AHA moment for me:

“As I was building my career, I travelled a lot. So much so, that my kids would kick the suitcase every time they saw it come out… which was a lot. But you know what, I didn’t do balance… I put my career first. I did very well in my job and it was something my kids just had to accept. Did they give me a hard time that I was barely around? Of course they did, but what don’t kids give you a hard time about? They didn’t understand it growing up, but they understand it today.”

And while people seemed to agree with this statement. While YOU may agree with this statement, I simply cannot. Careers are a very subjective and personal journey and I don’t want to preach. Believe me, I have had my share of kicked suitcases. But I don’t think you can put your career before you children and not do someone an injustice. Someone gets royally f’d when you do. If you read this blog, you know that I am a HUGE supporter and advocate of working moms, but there is a great cheesy quote that goes something like this: “You can have it all, just not at the same time.” And I believe this.

What do you think?


  1. I agree that you can have it all just not at once. I recently took my career off the back burner now that my kids are almost teenagers because I thought it was important to be around for them growing up. Everything has its time.

  2. completely agree with you, Erica. Someone has to be there for the kids. If it’s not one parent, it’s got to be the other parent. I quit full-time work to be there for my kids – it’s stultifying sometimes not to be using my brain to its fullest potential and following my career dreams. I am insanely jealous of my husband’s career and work trips, even when I know that travel for work is totally overrated. But it is a choice I am happy with, because I know it is right for my family, and I also know it’s not forever. There will come a day where my kids won’t need me as much and I certainly plan on hitting the career path big-time when that day comes!

  3. Erica,
    What irks me is that her comment stirs up the whole kids vs career competition which is unnecessary. I don’t agree that kids “just have to accept it”, that’s really selfish. You can have it all, maybe not at the same time and maybe not all at once. By laughing at the comment, you avoid the harder facts; your kids are only kids for a few years and then they are gone. Have you been the best role model for them? Are they coming home to be with you?

  4. The question I always asked myself is this: Who is going to miss me more if something were to happen to me tomorrow? My job or my kids? For me, that it is an easy answer and always will be……especially since I gave up my career to be a stay at home mom. If something were to happen to you, your work may suffer but you are easily replaced, the same cannot be said about a parent. There is no replacement!!!

  5. Thank you all for the time you took to read and comment. This topic remains ever controversial, and always a topic to debate. I think we all have to do what lets us sleep at night- regardless of what that choice is.

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