“Women can do everything and anything men can do,” this is a statement I heard consistently while growing up and one that served as my motto. It gave me wings and courage to hear that yes, as a female I can do anything a man can do professionally.
These words held true and fiercely propelled me through many scenarios where I was uncertain if it was possible for me to get to the next level due to my being female. “If they can, we can!” I would tell myself and happily push forward. This motto enabled me to obtain positions at several respected companies including: NBC Universal, ABC News, and Goldman Sachs. As the first person in my family to graduate college, I was living proof of women being capable of doing anything men can do in the workplace. That was the case until I entered the world of MOTHERHOOD.
Becoming a mother was the single greatest and most amazing moment of my life, however, I could not have imagined what a drastic life change it would be. Everything was different. I could no longer use the bathroom privately, let alone plan my next career move. I found myself failing at juggling my full time job, my writing gigs, a startup, a TV project, a marriage, and a baby. Prior to life with baby, I effortlessly balanced my professional and personal life, while taking on new and exciting projects on a weekly basis. Becoming a young mother was the lethal recipe for career suicide, I thought.
After several months of sleepless nights, breastfeeding exhaustion, writing at midnight, overworking, and not providing myself the necessary and oh so crucial self care that one’s body and soul needs, I had succumb to the elements. I was burning out.
The evidence was all there. My hair was falling out in clumps, I was suffering from insomnia, dropping too much weight and ultimately found myself unhappy most of the time. I couldn’t understand how I could feel so sad when I had all the good in the world: a stable career with a 6 figure income, a beautiful little angel that was 100% healthy and a supportive husband that loved me unconditionally. It hit me one day as I was breastfeeding my son while working simultaneously on my laptop. I was taking care of everyone and everything and not myself.
Something had to give, I just couldn’t figure out what that something was going to be. I knew for one it would not be my child. My co-workers and most of my friends were strongly advising me to hire a full time nanny. I was fortunate to have my mother babysitting for half the week and the other half of the week I had a mini commuting buddy, my son! My workplace at the time offered childcare within the same building and so I had the rare luxury of seeing my infant son 3 to 4 times during my 10 hour long workday.
Hiring more help would not solve my problem. I realized that the core of my unhappiness stemmed from being a parent that was not fully present. I also could not stomach the idea of having a stranger witness my son’s first steps or hearing his first words. Funny enough, my unhappiness and stress levels both increased exponentially when I started to think about becoming a “stay at home mom”. I was not okay flushing all the years of schooling, paying my dues, and my hard earned professional credibility down the toilet so that I can now be a “stay at home mom”. I could not and would not do that. Besides, men don’t quit their jobs when they become fathers, why should I?
It was time to disconnect with the world and reconnect with myself. Yoga, meditating and praying helped clear my mind and allowed me to really find the answer to why my life was so imbalanced. That answer was simple: I cannot do everything at the same time. Yes I could do anything a man can do professionally, but why must I do this all the time and at the same time? Men don’t give birth and men don’t breastfeed or go through the emotional and physical changes women do. Therefore, how does it make sense for women to continue to do everything they normally do during major life changes? It doesn’t make any sense, it only directly results in extreme self harm to the body, soul and psyche.
I had a revelation and the hardest part was to accept it. Partly because modern day society does not give women the option to take a pause professionally in order to focus on something that is so natural and universal: being a mother. I also found that I was overly concerned with how society would view me now that I was no longer working for a Fortune 500 company and was “just home”.
Work will always be there and these priceless years will not. I was now a young mother and I had a biological need and right to nurture my child and to embrace motherhood. I decided to quit my full time desk job and tune into my entrepreneurial spirit that would allow me to be present in my full time and most awesome mommy job. I will resume doing everything at the same time when I am ready. Till then, Namaste.