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.
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.
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.