In honor of US Mother's Day, I recently posed a question to my fierce, smart, and loving mama friends, who work both inside and outside the home:
What are your top tips for pre-, during-, and post- having kids, while working outside the home?
The responses that I received ranged from the practical to the soul-stirring. They poured out from women in various parts of the world, in different professional fields, and at various stages of the Motherhood Journey. The thoughtfulness and time that went into these deep, intelligent, and heartfelt responses could not be cut short, so we've broken them into 3 posts, which you can find here and here.
I love that some of the opinions and advice, even from like-minded people contradict each other. This diversity of thought is such a valuable quality to me. When I shared my reaction with one trusted friend, she summarized my attempt to capture these opinions, stories, and advice better than I ever could:
"Motherhood is such a personal experience. Each pregnancy, birth, maternity leave, is just so different. In many ways it can be isolating. And you want to have connections, but those are hard to find. Even if you have the most wonderful partner (and I do), they just don't experience it the same way a mother does."
And with that first dose of wisdom, I hand you off to the experts...
Part I: Awaiting the Little One's Arrival
"There's really no 'best' time to have kids. I was a younger mother than most...Having a baby is one of life's most interesting disruptions no matter how well prepared you are. It takes your so-called well put together self and reduces it to the basics."
"Don't underestimate how much maternity leave you would like. It is easy to think you will want to get back to work pretty quickly, especially if work is all you have ever known... I thought I would be bored on maternity leave and itching to get back to work (wrong!)... My advice is: try and allow yourself as much time off as you can mentally and financially afford - think of it as an investment."
"Working in the banking industry, I feel supported and understood as a working mom from the top of the house, and it trickles down for the most part... Though at the bottom of the house, maternity leave and being a mom aren't always perceived the same. I have heard comments from two different male colleagues (without kids) at two different banks refer to maternity leave as a setback in a woman's career. I have also heard it talked about as if that woman is being cast away to some remote island (don't sound bad actually!). It's absurd that thinks like this are still being said...
As an aside, Wells Fargo recently announced that they changed paid primary care leave [meaning maternity or paternity - bravo!!!] from 6 weeks to 16 weeks. Came on the heels of BofA and JPMC announcing the same. It is a huge deal."
"I tried to be as organized as possible. Spreadsheets on open deals, recommendations for whom to fill in for me on those accounts while I was out... I had an idea in my head on how things "should" be handled while I was out, but inevitably they would not be - it's just something you have to accept. Before I left for maternity leave with my second child, I bought my helpful coworkers $20 giftcards to Starbucks as a thank you. In a lot of ways, it's hard not to feel a bit guilty... They aren't getting paid any more to do your work. No one ever grumbled (at least not to my face), but I didn't ignore that fact either. I just hope I get the opportunity in the future to pay it forward to someone..."
PS - many of you know that I just adore Joanna Goddard's blog Cup of Jo, which covers a variety of topics, including Motherhood. If you're interested in hearing about Motherhood around the World or generally Brilliant Parenting Advice, I really recommend checking it out!
PPS - the recounts of her conversations with her two sons always leaves me doubled over in laughter. I cannot get enough of these 2 little strangers Toby and Anton (is that weird??) - check out one of my faves.
Photo courtesy of Vintage Revivals