Mother’s guilt

Bianca Clifton

I wasn’t sure what to expect after having my first baby. I wasn’t sure what to expect personally and professionally. I didn’t give it too much thought because I guess it was going to happen regardless.

To say the first 3 months were brutal is an understatement, to say that now, 19 months on, the love I feel and have in return from my daughter is magical is also an understatement. My love for my husband has also transformed and grown and I’m now part of my own family unit. I truly couldn’t have imagined this feeling I have, this bubble of love that is now my family.

Has it been like this the whole time… not even remotely. It was a baptism of fire. I had all intentions (prior bub) of coming back to work at 6 months, fast forward to 15 months later, it became a reality. And was I happy to come back, to be honest I’d been dreaming of coming back for months, I literally skipped into work my first day.

So why was it so hard to come back? If I was literally dreaming about returning to work why didn’t I do it sooner? Did I love spending all day every-day changing diapers, picking up food off the floor, holding my breath while I tippy toed out of my daughters’ room because she finally went off to sleep and if she woke up I’d be trapped for another 1,000 pats.  

“Mother’s guilt”, ladies. It is a thing and if you don’t keep it in check it will eat away at you.

There are many hurdles we face as women and as mothers, it can be extremely challenging trying to keep everything together. Being a conscientious parent, keeping up to date with the latest parenting psychology books, ensuring you know which developmental stage your child/ren is in, ensuring they eat healthy, whilst packing lunches and tripping over the washing running out the door to make it to your 8:30am team meeting. All the while reminding yourself you still need to be a loving wife to your partner, realising you haven’t eaten and won’t be able to until lunch and wondering if this counts as a fast day.

Let’s face it ladies, it’s tough and you can’t do it all, no one can. But what we can do is help one another. It’s that simple. As women we need to support one another because we’ve all been there.

No one understands more, than someone who has lived the same experience. Because if we don’t support one another, who will? To remember how it feels when you’re trying to be everything to everyone, when your internal dialogue is providing no help at all and when you feel like an imposter. And you feel this way because you’re continually transitioning at breakneck speed. Changing from career professional, to mum, back to career professional can be really tough. There’s no time to slowly transition- you’re playing catch up for the time you’ve had off.

Remember what it felt like and maybe you might be able to make the transition a little less overwhelming and more manageable for your new colleague or the new hire who has just returned from maternity leave and whose head is spinning out of control. It is only a phase and it doesn’t last forever, but when you’re in it you can’t see the forest from the trees. Talking with someone who has a different perspective, who can show kindness and compassion in the most emotionally fuelled and challenging times can make the world of difference. Don’t underestimate the power of understanding and kindness.

The more we talk about this, the less taboo it becomes and the number of women returning to work will increase. Because let’s face it, reproductive evolution isn’t changing anytime soon, and we need more Inspirational women with a seat at the table. 

Interesting Fact: At Sterning Group, we receive the largest amount of positive feedback from Managers who have hired women transiting back into the workforce after maternity leave. Employers who are outcomes focused and offer flexibility reap the rewards and end up with a fully committed, loyal and hardworking employee who is not set up for failure and can achieve professional growth whilst not missing out on raising their children. Ask any parent and that’s a win, win.

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