I was never that girl that had a deep yearning to be a mother. I loved my freedom, my career and have always been fiercely independent. In fact, I spent much of my young adult life debating whether or not motherhood was meant for me – erring on the side of it not being so. I struggled with my own definitions of what it meant to be a “good mother”. When I give myself to something, I give my all. And when I love, I love deeply and unconditionally. I was fearful of the immense adoration that I’d have for a child; I was fearful of losing my independence; but mostly, I was afraid of failing.
When I became pregnant with my son, all of my repressed anxiety and trepidations from my own childhood became more real than ever before. I spent the first trimester terribly ill and depressed with internalized emotions that left me feeling disconnected to the being growing inside of me for quite some time. It was not a planned pregnancy, but at the same time, it was not a complete shock either. My husband and I had started having more serious conversations about starting a family, so we were slowly beginning to prepare for that possibility, but the saying that you’re never really ready definitely felt true in the beginning stages of my pregnancy. About halfway through my second trimester, I found myself becoming increasingly more attached to my son. Perhaps it had a lot to do with the nausea, vomiting and exhaustion ending; but, I noticed a big shift in myself – physically, mentally and most astonishingly, spiritually. I grew more and more excited to meet our boy, excited for the love that was growing between us, and between my husband and I. My identity gradually shifted and I became more comfortable with the new person that was emerging within myself.
When my son was born, the ‘Mama Bug’ hit me hard – harder than I ever imagined. For the first time in my life, I felt whole, as if the missing pieces of my life that I didn’t know were missing, were found. I enjoyed four and a half blissful, yet challenging, months with my son, and then it was time to return to work – my other “baby.”
Since returning to work, I have been finding my way between my career and motherhood. It’s a constant work in progress, and I am learning so much about myself along the way – a lot of soulful work that is both rewarding and uncomfortable. I have always been ambitious and career driven, so marrying that drive and my maternal instincts has challenged me to dig deep within and redefine myself as both a career-woman and a mother. There has been a lot of guilt and worry that has come with the two territories. I have days when I feel like an all-star employee, and a sub-par parent; and vice versa. It is rare that I go to bed at night feeling like I successfully gave 100% to every compartment of my life, which is hard for someone like me who has always given more than that to anything that I’ve been a part of – be that work, school or my relationships. I’m quickly learning that it is not possible, nor is it necessary to be everything to everyone; and that me at 80%, is enough… it is more than enough.
Being a working mom is a privilege and I try to remind myself of that every day. It is a gift to be the first lady my son loves and admires. It is an honor to imprint upon him the virtues that he’ll hold dear, to be his teacher and show through example that women are productive members of the workforce, productive members of society and devoted mothers and wives. I hope to be a shining example of what it means to be a girl boss!
My career fulfills me in a way that is important, but it does not come without its challenges. I find difficulty working in an industry where other mothers are few and far between. I believe having people you can relate to is crucial, especially in the first year. While I do have great support from my colleagues, all but one of them has gone through being a first-time mother, so it is hard for some of them to understand so much of what is now me. Sometimes without knowing it, I find myself hiding my “momness” so as not to be a burden to others, and in turn, it can make parenting feel like a very lonely experience. I find that to be the biggest challenge in being a working mother.
I am strong and trust in my team, both in my personal and professional life. I suspect that I will continue to modify my definition of what it means to be a career-woman and a mother along with their associated expectations for some time, and I am okay with that. I’m learning what I can and cannot do; and that sometimes “no” or “I don’t know” is a perfectly valid and acceptable answer. I do believe that it is possible for women to love their careers and being mothers, and I hope that with continued flexibility and some confidence, I will be capable of balancing both – for myself, for my son, for my family. There is no self-help book or guru that can teach the type of inner strength that comes with the titanic responsibility of bringing another soul into the physical world. I am so grateful to be on this journey, in its entirety.
By Chelsea D