The best gift that I gave to myself before I became a mom for the first time was to make a commitment to always be honest with myself and others about how I was feeling about the experience of motherhood. I knew that in the lead up to the arrival of my daughter, Madison, that I felt inundated with messages about how I was supposed to be feeling about this significant life change.
I was being sold certain images of domestic bliss from the media. I was reading books that were telling me what to expect, what to do, and not to do. The debate about working outside-the-home, versus, staying-at-home raged on. I knew that becoming a mother was going to change me.
But, at the same time, I had a feeling that it wasn’t going to change certain aspects of who I was. I wanted to make sure that I stayed true to myself. Most importantly, I wanted to make sure that I didn’t get caught up in selling a rather unhelpful, stereotypical image of motherhood to others.
I remember the moment that I made this commitment to always be honest as if it happened yesterday and not almost fourteen years ago.
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I was sitting having coffee with a friend and I shared what seemed like a pretty radical thought; I was going to miss my job while I was on maternity leave! As soon as I said it I felt relief, funnily enough so did my friend. At the time I had an amazing job as a European Human Resources Manager at Bloomberg in London, England where I was living and working. I knew with confidence that I would be looking forward to getting back to work. I loved my job, I loved the people that I worked with, I loved traveling the world for work. I had worked hard to get where I was.
I was going to enjoy becoming a mother, but I was going to be looking forward to getting back to something else that I also loved and that was my job. Was it okay to say that? I wasn’t sure, but I knew it was what I was feeling.
No one seemed to be trying to sell me that image, so I would create it for myself and share my experience honestly with others.
In that moment I said to my friend, “I am always going to be honest with myself and others about how I am experiencing motherhood. I want to make sure that if there is someone else out there, just like me, who feels that the stereotypical image of motherhood doesn’t fully resonate with them, they have a friend in me.”
I knew that more of us needed to feel confident and comfortable sharing our unique experience of what being a mother today really looks like. To really own our motherhood experience and make it the best that it can be for us, for our family, versus doing or saying what we feel we are supposed to do or say.
My friend, who also had a great job at Morgan Stanley in London, agreed with me. We are friends to this day. We both have three children, we have supportive husbands, we have both been very proud, primary breadwinners in our families. We wanted this aspect of modern motherhood to be represented. We knew that it would start with us being confident in ourselves and sharing our experiences honestly.
I knew that being honest with myself and others would allow me to always put into place the support networks that allow me to be my best self. My professional role just happened to be one of those ingredients.
I knew intuitively that if I was at my best, that logistics would fall into place that would help me to be the best mother that I could be. I knew that if I could be true to my personal and professional aspirations that I would be the best mother possible for my daughter, and eventually my two sons when they arrived a few years later.
My “Honesty is the best policy” philosophy has served me well. You may have a different set of ingredients that allow you to be your best self and I celebrate that. I encourage you to stay in touch with what those necessary ingredients are for you. I encourage you to be honest with yourself and others about your experience of motherhood. Sharing your honest experience will ensure that you find the right support network to take you through every stage of motherhood confidently.
I know that we all deserve that gift.