Here’s the truth: I was terrified to have children because I was afraid of what it would do to my career. For as long as I can remember, I’ve had lofty career goals. I was legitimately concerned that starting a family would be the equivalent of dropping a bomb on my professional dreams, sabotaging my chances of moving up, branching out and—generally—reaching desired levels of success. 

I worried about this when my husband and I were discussing the possibility of starting a family. I worried about it when I found out I was pregnant. And I worried—still—for the next eight months. I then spent the first six weeks of my son’s life—you guessed it—worrying. I was incredibly sleep-deprived, my life was suddenly very different from the one I recognized, and I could barely comprehend any thought beyond how many ounces my son had to drink that day or how many hours of sleep I didn’t get the night before. I asked myself how in the world was I ever going to string a sentence together on paper, let alone draft the strategic communications my job required? 

And that was the other point of stress—my job. 

Related: What I didn’t understand about being a working mom before I was one 

Aside from worrying about the festering state of my mom brain, I was a ball of anxiety thinking about the uninspired work environment that was awaiting my return. I hadn’t reached the leadership level I had been hoping to achieve by that point in my life, and I was depressed thinking about how that was ever going to happen for me now that I was a parent. How could I be fully present at work when I would be missing my son whom I was planning to ship off to daycare? How could I possibly change jobs right now with so many things to balance? How would I ever get promoted? These were the thoughts running through my head on repeat.

I decided I was no longer going to view motherhood as a hindrance. Instead, I was going to use it as an asset.

According to Motherly's 2022 State of Motherhood survey, 34% of millennial and Gen Z moms who are currently working feel frustrated when it comes to combining career and motherhood, saying they want both but need a new arrangement at work to make that realistic. Another 25% are optimistic that it is possible to creatively combine motherhood and career.

Around six weeks postpartum, I forced the tides to change. I was tired of my own negative mental energy and forcibly snapped myself out of it. I decided I was no longer going to view motherhood as a hindrance. Instead, I was going to use it as an asset. Here’s how I did just that. 

First, I visited the job market. Is maternity leave the best time to search for a job? That probably depends on who you ask. On one hand, I was incredibly sleep-deprived, but on the other, I also had plenty of (nap) time on my hands. I didn’t have to wait until the end of the workday to tweak my resume or plug away on applications. I simply had to wait for my son to fall asleep. And when the time came for interviews, I didn’t have to make up phony dentist appointments to take the time off from work. 

Related: Mom’s post on getting hired while pregnant goes viral on LinkedIn 

During said interviews, I was boldly honest. I communicated that I was looking to be at a company that allowed me autonomy as a professional and a clear path forward to leadership. I also made clear that I’m an individual who likes to take risks and move quickly. As a mom, I didn't have time for pandering or half-truths. I guess my honest ambition resonated with the interviewers—I got the job. 

Now employed at my new gig for almost a year—and with one promotion under my belt —I’ve been continually falling back on the skills I’ve picked up in motherhood. I consider myself a pro multitasker and time manager, and I constantly reach for the confidence motherhood has granted me. After all, keeping a tiny human alive can help you feel rather self-assured. I speak honestly and directly, knowing that time is undeniably the most valuable asset. I also lean into my newfound sense of authority. I don’t feel guilty taking my vacation days or communicating my needs. 

Motherhood isn’t a hindrance—it’s a force of nature. And it's ours to run with. 

As it turns out, I love being a mother. It wasn’t something I had pictured for myself, but it is, by and large, the best decision I’ve ever made. My son has filled my life with endless joy and shown me a level of love I didn’t think was even possible. As a writer, I’ve been channeling this inspiration and have used it to dive into a side job as a freelance journalist. I write often about motherhood because it is the most fulfilling and inspiring thing I’ve yet to experience. If it weren’t for my transition into parenthood, I’m not sure I would have stuck to my dreams of becoming a published writer. 

I think back to when I first found out I was pregnant—anxiety-ridden with tears streaming down my face, mourning what I thought would be the sure-fire death of my career. I think about other women out there who are wondering how they’ll juggle a challenging career with a family; wondering if the system that’s against them will allow them to advance beyond the odds; wondering if wanting both a fulfilling career and a family is too much to ask for. Keyboard underhand, I write this story because I’ve been there and learned the hard way that it’s all in the perspective. Motherhood isn’t a hindrance—it’s a force of nature. And it's ours to run with.