Before I had children I was an ambitious career focused university graduate.
I was focused on the next promotion and the next career opportunity and did everything in my power to position myself for success.
One of my uni friends even joked about me becoming a CEO!
As I climbed the corporate ladder there was always a lingering question in the back of my mind.
When would be the right time for me to start a family?
After becoming a home owner, a wife, ticking off a few international holiday destinations and adopting a fur baby, the question of when to start a family grew louder.
For the record I never had a burning desire to become a mother. When playing the childhood game ‘mothers and fathers’ in primary school I always wanted to be the big sister. I let the other girls fight it out for the mother roles.
I knew that having a family was important to my husband and I was looking forward to creating gorgeous little people with him.
I certainly wasn’t dreaming of the pitter patter of little feet so that I could say goodbye to my career.
I was wondering how I was going to have both a career and be a mum without regrets and sacrifice.
I was simultaneously worried that:
- motherhood would put the brakes on my career and destroy all the time and energy I had already invested in my career; and
- focusing on my career too long may negatively affect my chances of experiencing motherhood.
I’m sure I wasn’t the only career focused newly married woman who ever had these thoughts. Although at the time I felt like I was. It seemed like a big decision at the time. And it was.
I started asking other women in the workplace, particularly working mums, about when the best time was.
No one could give me a straight answer.
As a married childless career woman it seemed to me that many career women who became mothers experienced a significant career shift.
Starting a family can be perceived by colleagues and managers as a loss of ambition.
I now understand that for a career woman, starting a family is often more about spreading that ambition across career and family and the desire to have both.
After much contemplation, mentally weighing up the pros and cons of starting a family versus waiting and many discussions with my husband it became clear that I would regret not becoming a mother more than not having an amazing career.
The decision to start a family at that point in my life and career felt right to me. Well as right as it ever would based on my knowledge of fertility and my industry, my emotions and the vision my husband and I had for our life. We even spoke about how old (or young) we wanted to be as empty nesters.
So we embarked on our journey into parenthood. As it turned out timing was not something within our control anyway.
I have friends at both ends of the spectrum when it comes to family planning. I have friends who fell pregnant as soon as they decided to have a baby and others who spent years doing IVF.
Timing is the great unknown with pregnancy. You never know when it will happen for you, how long it will take and to whether you may need help. Which all adds to the complexity of deciding when is the right time for you.
Almost two years later I was on maternity leave with our first child.
It turned out that becoming a mother was not something that came easily for me. Even at the seemingly perfect age of 27. Which was a difficult pill to swallow for an overachiever. You can read more about my experience with fertility treatment and career here.
My greatest challenge though was not becoming a mother.
My greatest challenge was becoming a working mother who believed she deserved to have both a career and enjoy motherhood.
The truth is my career and professional skills and abilities were all still there, waiting for me, after I became a mum.
But motherhood changed my perception of who I thought I was. And that’s a story for another blog post.
If you’re interested in working with me to gain clarity on your motherhood and career goals and how you can have both go here.
What would you tell your younger self about having both a career and enjoying motherhood?