‘Just being mum’
For many women, having children is often at the top of their list for life-goals and is seen as a huge rite of passage. But for the career-oriented woman, starting a family can sometimes mean a hindrance to career goals and aspirations.
Despite these apprehensive feelings, very few women are willing to admit it in fear of being judged by others.
My fear of losing my identity after baby
When I was heavily pregnant and people used to ask me about whether I was excited about having a baby, I always responded “yes, absolutely” (well that’s what they want to hear and because, of course, it is true). However what I didn’t tell them about was the very next feeling that used to hit me when they asked this; utter fear. Oh, but I wasn’t fearful about putting on weight, swollen ankles or feeling tired. I wasn’t even anxious about the long and painful labor (although let’s be honest that was pretty traumatic); rather, I was fearful about leaving my job in PR, if only for a short while.
It’s somewhat embarrassing to admit this, because in many ways I felt it made me look like a bad mummy even before I have started. As if I am not grateful for this wonderful gift, when truly I am. Yet I still have this deep-rooted fear of how I will deal with my time off on maternity leave, how I will let go, pass over the reins to a maternity cover, and worst of all, whether I can deal with going from PR professional, to simply ‘mum’. By the way, I should just caveat above too that ‘time off’ is completely the wrong term of phrase – having a baby is far from ‘time off’ – more like ‘time always on’ but for want of a better phrase I will leave it as it is.
So am I the only one feeling like this? I can’t find anyone writing about this issue of maternity leave anxiousness, and it is never discussed in the pregnancy books or at antenatal classes. None of my friends seem to mention it either…
A common feeling
It was only recently that I decided to be honest and commit my very biggest fears to paper (or rather to screen) in the form of my new mummy blog that I realised I’m not the only one. There are women all over the world panicking about letting go, anxious about going off on maternity leave, fearful over losing their identity – and all the time feeling guilty about these emotions. Yet it is like the elephant in the room and something no one in willing to admit to.
I have always loved my career in PR, and my clients and my team mean the world to me. I have also, up until recently, believed that my career defines me, makes me into the professional that I am. So how will I cope if I can’t do what defines me on a daily basis? How can I continue to be me? How will I deal with losing my identity? All these questions I agonised over in the run up to my maternity leave, resulting in my last few months being stressful and emotional.
My new found identity
But now, as I enter into my forth month of maternity leave and having had my beautiful baby girl, I have realized that what defines me is not, in fact, my career in PR. Rather, it is my deep rooted values that define me. And these values won’t change whether I am at work or at home. In fact, they will remain intrinsic in me until my return to work and help me every day as I practice my new job as a mum.
I don’t doubt that the coming months will be hard – just being mum- but now I know what defines me, and it is so much more than my day job. So as I continue this journey into motherhood, I am so relieved to know that I am not alone and reassured that it is ok to feel like this.
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