I’ve written down notes about this topic a few times and thought I may as well share. I’m almost two years into mommyhood, but still have daily struggles. Talking to friends about the challenging of being a new mom has helped me feel stronger and more confident as a mom and a woman so I want to share, even if no one ever reads this.
NO ONE KNOWS WHAT THEY’RE DOING
I’ve had people reach out and ask me about things like breastfeeding, postpartum depression, going back to working and balancing it all. When anyone asks me for mommy advice, I’m amazed. Girl, I’m winging it over here! I’m 25 seconds away from a full meltdown at any given moment…I barely find time to shower, I Google EVERYTHING, I yell at my husband, my house is only clean for company, I eat cereal for dinner most nights, I miss work deadlines, I’m a sugar and caffeine addict , I pretend I read but only listen to books on tape, I was a no-show to my last doctor appointment, I’m still at my pregnancy weight, I have no bedtime routine for my kid, I take medications for anxiety and I have no idea what I’m doing. But I’ve learned that no one really does and we all just need to be more honest about it all. It’s hard to be a mom, but we are all warriors.
After moving back to my hometown from OKC, I actually accepted a new position without knowing I was already pregnant. I waited as long as I could to announce and traveled (while SO SICK) through my entire first two trimesters. Then, my doctor put me on limited activity, wanting me to work from home my last two months of pregnancy, and I had to explain that to my new workplace.
BACK TO WORK
I took full advantage of my time home for maternity leave, but I was ready to go back. After transitioning from exclusively breastfeeding to nursing and pumping, prepping to drop my infant at daycare, figuring out my postpartum body (and what to wear to work) and stressing about it all, I got a call the Friday before I was returning that my role was “eliminated.” I had no baby blues…until this moment. It hit me HARD. My ego aside, physically and emotionally I had been ready to feel myself again, gaining confidence and independence as a working mom. I talk about this all the time now, and friends and family say that they didn’t realize how dark it was for me at the time. I may not have shared it all through the journey, but I know that it was a difficult road to get me where I am today.
I ended up home for another month, having a complete identity crisis and suffering with terrible postpartum depression before I started a new job with a company I had interviewed with years before. I was still sad and angry that I now had to navigate my new normal in a brand new place. There was no easing into something comfortable, there were no familiar faces or even extra empathy for me as a brand new working mom. I was the new girl, isolating myself in my designated pumping room, running out to my car each day to get to daycare before I was charged extra when my husband had to travel. And I hated every minute of it.
It’s hard to say if it was that job, all the personal changes, the hormones or just the phase I was in, but I was miserable. Even though I was unhappy, I knew I still wanted to work. I feel myself when I’m doing market research or presenting to clients, strategizing marketing plans or working with creatives.
The challenges taught me that I’m strong, I’m resilient and I have an amazing support system. I learned to lean on the inspiring working moms around me and be honest about struggles. It also taught me that going back to work, even after a sudden lay-off, was an investment in myself, my career and ultimately, my family.
A year later, I’m in a new role that I know will be a long-term fit. I’m using my experience and strengths and feeling so much more myself. My daughter is learning and growing, and I love our daycare like they are part of the family. My husband and I are always working on work life balance and regularly scramble when we both have work travel or we have a sick kiddo, but we are doing it…one day at a time (with the help of wonderful family and friends)!
When anyone asks my career aspirations, I always say to ‘to be happy.’ Happy for me is being challenged and feeling valued at work, but also having balance and time with my husband and daughter. I know I’m not always there, but I’m always striving for that and learning that I can do anything, but not everything, and that is OK. I’ve stepped back on extra volunteering and girls happy hours, but traded it for focused workdays and casual evenings home with my daughter. I know that I ask for help and advice so when other moms reach out to me, I always take the time to be open and honest, and also supportive. I’m proud to contribute to any and all honestly about the challenges, struggles and support needed along the way, because mom tribes are EVERYTHING!
Let’s make a promise to ourselves and other mama to be open and honest about the joys of parenthood, but also about the struggles!