When I was thinking about putting this blog together, the only word I could really work around was ‘surviving’ because realistically, that’s what most new mums like myself are doing. I mean, some, really do thrive and I wish I could be one of those mums, but I’m not, but not as mother as such, more not thriving within my own mental health. This isn’t another blog about motherhood and how hard it is, this is an honest blog about how I lost myself and my independence whilst on maternity leave.
On 30th January 2019, my life changed as I knew it. My beautiful baby girl, Elsie, made her appearance into the world and oh my, what a feeling. Her tiny fingers, tiny toes and wrinkly skin made me sit back and think “I’ve done something right in my life”. Looking over at my partner, seeing his eyes beaming, staring down at this wonderful new life before us, I knew things were going to be very different from this day forward.
With my second Mother’s Day almost here, I felt I had to write this blog to talk about my own mental health struggles within that first year of motherhood.
After spending over 10 years building up my career to get to where I am today, I never thought having a baby would change that ‘career driven female’ I have always been. I am slowly finding my inner independent woman again, but it has not been without its challenges.
As all mums say, it really is true, being a mum is the most wonderful thing in the world and I count my blessings every single day when I look at Elsie. But for a woman in business, motherhood changes your mindset and that’s where I struggled.
Where did I go?
As much as I loved those early days, they were hard. Sleepless nights, trying to work-out those feeding queues, endless walks in the pram to get Elsie to sleep started to take its toll, but that’s motherhood, right? In all fairness, Elsie was quite an easy baby but one thing I did struggle with and I am sure I am not alone here, is the realisation that financially, I am no longer independent. My partner was incredible and would often say ‘don’t worry about money, if you need anything just ask’ and there, in all it’s glory, was the problem. I do not mean to sound ungrateful, I was (and still am!) blessed to have both emotional and financial support, but living off maternity allowance and asking for money when I needed it, took a huge part of my self-esteem and I felt I had lost myself, who I had always known.
Prior to motherhood, if I wanted something, a new pair of shoes, a holiday or even a car, I would get it and the best part was, I worked damn hard for it! I am sure for you men reading this too, having the burden of solely supporting your family financially is tough and it doesn’t go un-noticed, but for us woman, it isn’t all play dates and sofa surfing.
But motherhood is a job!
Of course, motherhood is a job, a non-paid, bloody damn hard, incredibly rewarding, amazing job! But for me personally, as much as I cherished spending my days watching Elsie grow, learn and blossom into this small child, I was still excited to get back to work and find myself again, not as a new mum, but as me. The independent, career driven women I once was.
As much as I was excited to return to work, I would discuss it with my other ‘mum friends’ and they were dreading it, again, anxiety kicked in, “Am I a bad mum for wanting to go back to work?”.
Fast forward 6 months and I am the happiest I have been. Why? I have my amazing new life as a Mum and my alter-ego “career drive, independent woman” life too! Whilst I am working, Elsie enjoys her days with a local childminder, who is fantastic! Elsie thrives there and I have witnessed her develop so many new skills and most importantly, I am confident she is in safe, caring environment. Luckily for me, I am a Digital Marketing Consultant with my own business, so I can work from home and have the flexibility I never had in employment. My clients are wonderful, and I look forward to working and helping businesses with their digital marketing. Digital Marketing is my passion and has been for as long as I can remember, as they say, doing a job you love, you never have to work a day in your life.
Our days off are special, so special! I always make sure on Wednesdays; my laptop is firmly closed. Weekends (most of the time!) my laptop is closed, so we can enjoy our time as a new family.
So, as I look forward to enjoying my second Mother’s Day this month, I wanted to write this and remind other mums in business, your own mental health matters. Being independent matters. Being you matters.
How have I survived motherhood and business? Simple, balance. For women who are reading this and not quite there yet with the balance, remember until you find it, surviving is all that matters.