One day most smart, talented women reconsider not only their priorities, but their whole lives. It’s when they become mothers.
They do not change into different people. They do not get more stupid (although I hear too often about the “brest-fed-out-brain” :-)) or lose their diligence or ability.
Unfortunately, even if they want to keep up with themselves, along with motherhood, they often encounter obstacles. Lots of obstacles.
Those women who are successful at work, have built an interesting career, will meet no-understanding-sighs at the very beginning.
“Why are you pregnant right now ?! Your career is so well developing.”
It is difficult to explain to people who have not experienced it. Motherhood is a biological need. It is not at all related to the need for self-realization. These are two separate things. The only thing that connects them is that they meet in your life at certain point. At that moment motherhood becomes a more important part of life. But that doesn’t mean the other things disappear. For someone more, for someone less, other things are just put aside. For the moment.
I remember the day I announced at work that I was going to have a baby.
That’s what I wanted to hear. Is it a deadly disease, or what?
I don’t have nice memories for the time when I came back to work. All the afternoons and evenings were up to my husband, because we are far from grandmothers. My husband and I were both working full time, but I had people around me who didn’t understand motherhood. They excluded me many times claiming it was because I was not in the office at 18:00 and so on. I stayed a year and then quit that job. It was not worth it, not even for the good money.
A huge feeling of responsibility
Once a woman becomes a mother, her sense of responsibility grows rapidly. Even if she was more of a phlegmatic type before, she is now a responsible person. Taking care of the defenseless child is a kind of responsibility that cannot be described in words. This sometimes also brings a sense of importance. For women who have a lower sense of self-esteem, everything can change with the new situation.
When I first went to the office for several hours without my few weeks old son, I felt very nervous. Just like if I forgot my wallet with papers at home. And you know what happened? Nothing. In few hours I was back and the baby slept at the grandmother as well as when I was leaving. The problem was not on his side, but on mine. In my head. The next time it was much easier.
Uncertainty if they are able to handle it
Every mom will come across uncertainty. Fear of the unknown. You can read a million opinions, experiences, and other mothers’ situations, but nothing prepares you for what you have to handle. Your situation is always DIFFERENT. Maybe similar to something you’ve heard, but always unique. Moreover, waiting for confrontation with reality takes a long time. Nine months to be exact. This is a very long time if you let your fears frustrate you more and more.
Between us, every mom managed it in the end. Some worse, some better. Those who trust that it will end up somehow are usually those coping better.
For me it was not an option to return to the original position. I got a new job, a whole new position. But it was hard. I didn’t know what I was going to do, I had to overcome the feeling: “I don’t know anything”. In addition, the uncertainty associated with a one year contract did not help.
The reluctance of the others to accept it could be OK
If you, like me, had the idea that you would continue to work during your motherhood and would not give up everything you had built, then you would also meet the reluctance of someone else to accept you could manage it all.
“It just won’t work. You can’t make it. ”
How can anyone know this? Shouldn’t I know best?
And maybe they’re right. Maybe there will be circumstances that I will not be a good mom while continuing the work I love. I don’t know that in advance. But should I not try at least?
Before it did not matter, if you stayed at work an hour more? So now every minute matters. You are becoming a master of time management. Planning was not telling you anything? Now you are looking for the best diary and electronic calendar. Without precise organization of time, moms, who want to do also something else, just can’t survive.
Moreover you just listen quietly to your childless unmarried colleagues who complain about being late with everything and complaining not having time to go to workout.
Time management was the biggest problem for me after returning to work. I didn’t have anyone around to help me with kids, plus I wanted to spend some time with them. That’s why I chose the night shifts at work, at that time it was the best option.
Feeling they’re still running
Even though mums are true planning masters, they still feel they’re in a hurry. That they cannot sit down for a moment. Have to this and run to that, quickly.
This is a real challenge for most of them. Find at least a little while when NOTHING has to be done. When they sit down and just are. It’s hardest in the early days when they’re afraid to give a baby out of their hands, because what if the baby just needs them.
I have a great boss, but still somehow he didn’t understand the concept of my part-time job at the beginning. He often came to me claiming he needed to talk to me for five minutes, and then I listened half an hour to something he could have told me the next day, while I was supposed to be on my way to kindergarten already. I had to learn to be more assertive. And also to accept, that as a part time worker I won’t be able to work on the best and time-consuming projects.
After maternity the morning rush was a huge shock for me. Every morning was just hurrying, unwashed mugs and plates from breakfast had to wait until evening. It took me a long time to get used to it.
Times don’t match
You plan exactly how it will work, up to minutes precisely. And then you change the kindergarten and find out that this one closes at 16:30. Ooh. Your working hours are until five.
Let’s face it – official kindergarten hours are rarely aligned with the normal business hours of most companies. Because why kindergartens should adapt to the needs of their clients, right? Some private institutions maybe, in state kids care no chance. You cannot cope without working time flexibility.
Moreover, this applies to other things you will need to go through – visits to doctors, children’s interest groups, etc.
The main problem was with the kindergarten. To find one to cover at least part of the job hours. So we combined grandmothers, babysitter and a private kindergarten. Sometimes it was really difficult.
The need of tremendous flexibility
If you are more of a planning type and last-minute changes derail you, get ready. Everything is different with children. A long in advance planned business trip is cancelled few minutes before departure, when the child with a fever has to stay home. Everything can change from one minute to another. That’s how it is. You have to learn to accept this flexibility and not to get crazy.
Those evenings when we discovered one of the children had a fever – and now – what to do? All plans were gone. It puts a person in the work team into a position of a slightly unreliable colleague, which bothered me, but nothing could be done about it.
That was one of the reasons why I changed my field. I can have a home office at any time.
I had a great boss who understood and accepted this. She knew I would do my job no matter what. Unfortunately, there are few bosses like that.
Searching for yourself again
When you become a mom, you naturally downgrade your own importance. In everything. Very few women can maintain their interests and time for themselves all the time. And in fact, I don’t even consider it natural. Most mothers simply lose part of themselves.
They forget how much they enjoyed going to dance. They forget how they loved bike trips. How they did “lasy sunday” when they just read a book and didn’t get out of bed.
Sooner or later, however, the need to find themselves, what they enjoy, what makes them satisfied, and what they want to add (or return) to their lives, will reappear. If they listen to it on time, they will start to search for that again. If they get stuck with the feeling: “I am not entitled to it now”, they are likely to burn out. They will collapse and it is very, very hard to bounce from the bottom again. To remember again why they have a great life, when it’s not the life they want.
Being a mother is not a diagnosis. It’s not something that erases everything from the past. Every mother wants to stay as great woman as she has been. She just wants to be a mom, too. She received a gift to raise her child. Among other things..
So what do the great moms need the most?
First of all, they need trust. From all the people around, they need to feel they trust them. That they will be great moms. That they can handle everything they want. That they don’t have to worry.
Being a mom and a woman is generally a challenging job. If the person is yet working or having business, she is an extra class (let’s be honest, few guys would manage that, gentlemen will forgive me ;-)). She needs others to be helpful and supportive.
A dose of understanding does well to everyone. Mom needs it a little more. Especially from people who are not mothers themselves. From bosses, childless colleagues. Situations that we have not experienced ourselves are harder for us to understand. But let’s try to listen, to empathize.
At work, flexibility is a priceless advantage for mothers. They will happily give up some part of salary for the possibility of home office and flexible working hours. In return, they will guarantee that they will work more than others.
I still see few companies around me that allow such flexibility to their employees. Fortunately, the situation is improving.
A colleague of mine, a regional manager, a man, often took women, mothers in his team, including in quite important positions. I asked him why.
“Moms are the best managers. They have great time management, they are efficient, they only engage themselves in the important things, because they don’t have time for crap.”
Help them find solutions
As I mentioned before, in motherhood everything can be different from minute to minute. Help them look for ways that are appropriate for all parties, rather than judging them for not following something, while it is not their own fault. Understand that they had to rebalance their priorities, even though they may feel bad about this change.
I support all mothers who fight with time every day to manage everything that makes them happy and satisfied in all areas of their lives.
THANKS to all mothers and great women who have unswared my officious questions and so became part of this article.
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