I’ve been reflecting recently on what it is like to be a new Mom. It’s hard to believe it’s been almost 11 years (what!), since my daughter was born, but the feelings seem like they were happening just yesterday. You spend weeks and months preparing, reading books, talking to friends, family and getting unsolicited advice from everyone who crosses your path. Everyone tells you how wonderful it is going to be, but then when the baby arrives, you realize it is so much better than anyone could have described. I remember coming home from the hospital that first day, settling in and thinking now what are we supposed to do? Day by day you figure it out. What worked one day to calm her crying does not work another day, so you just keep trying new things until something works. The days go by and slowly you get into a routine (however odd the hours might be).
I was fortunate enough to spend three months at home with my daughter before having to go back to work. I knew it was going to be hard to go back, but financially I had to work and I was looking forward to having adult conversations. So on her three month birthday, I dropped her off at the daycare center, in the arms of a near stranger and went off to work with tears in my eyes. I was able to pull myself together on the drive to the office and what happened next was surreal. As I walked into the office, it felt like I had never left. It looked the same, smelled the same and the same familiar faces were walking around in the hallway. Mentally I knew I hadn’t been there in over 90 days, but when I sat down in my chair it felt like it was just yesterday. It was weird. I picked up right where I left off. It was comforting to be able to jump in, take my mind off my baby and feel like I was getting something done. At the end of the day, the anticipation and excitement of seeing my baby was unlike any I had felt. It was fun to leave work with a surge of energy, instead of feeling tired and worn down from the day.
Even though my job was the same, I was different. “Problems” at work no longer felt like the end of the world – it was really hard to get spun up about something when I was surrounded with pictures of a peaceful, sleeping baby. My world was now bigger and the minutia of what happened at the office seemed less relevant.
After a few months of being back, I started to think about my “career”. I had always had my next goal clearly on the horizon and now for the first time I wasn’t so sure about those goals. My priorities had shifted, I didn’t want to work 50-60 hours a week to get ahead, but on the other hand, I wanted to feel like I was moving forward and not staying stagnant. I felt like no one ever talked about this side of becoming a new parent. It’s easy to talk about choosing the right daycare, getting into a routine and doing things in your new role as mommy. But no one ever talks about what happens to your old role as career woman…..
It took me many, many years to get to a place where I felt like I had figured it out. I read a lot of books, did a lot of soul-searching and journaling. My perspective and expectations changed dramatically along the way. One thing I also realized was that I wanted to help other moms get through this, whether it’s in the form of this blog or one-on-one coaching. This is a topic we need to start talking about on a larger scale. We are one of the first generations of moms that feel they can have it all – a rewarding, successful career AND a rewarding, successful family life. The fact is there are still only 24 hours in a day and juggling both priorities is not something that comes instinctively. It takes conscious effort. It’s difficult. But when you commit yourself to defining your priorities and allowing for flexibility, work life balance is something we can all achieve.
p.s. Does this sound familiar? Are you struggling with work life balance? I’d love to help by offering you a free 30 minute consultation. On this call we’ll talk about what balance looks like today, what you’d like it to look like and what actions you can take to get there. Let’s get started, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to set up a time.
I started writing this blog because I wanted to have deeper conversations beyond "How are you?", "Busy", with other parents. Over the years I've shared personal stories, articles, authors and topics to facilitate conversations with parents about the joys and the challenges of parenting.