Kids — The Biggest Life-Changer
You have it all — the life, the career, you’re full of ideas how to make things even better, rise even higher… and then, one day, you find out you’re pregnant. Planned or not, you’re in for the greatest journey of your life that will change radically how you look at things. The age at which women become mothers is steadily rising in the developed world, so it’s very likely that you will be an accomplished professional at the time the new family member arrives. Brace yourself for a major rearrangement of priorities.
First of all, you may discover with some surprise that being a mother is the ultimate career, to which all else pales. A baby very quickly takes center stage in the lives of its parents and it hardly ever relinquishes it. Even if before this you’ve been totally career-driven, investing everything you have in your profession, chances are that once you take your baby in your arms, all else will be pushed to the back of your mind and your first and foremost thought will be for his or her well-being and how to best pour all that new and fierce love on him or her. Not to mention finally having the chance to try out all that good advice — and avoiding the bad — on child rearing that you’ve been getting during pregnancy.
Yet, time will pass and you’ll calm down as things settle into a routine. This is when the guilt comes, because you have — or want — to go back to work. One cause of guilt may be that you really, really want to go back to what you’re so good at, which seems to clash with the notion that a good mother spends all her time tending to the needs of her baby. This notion has burdened the lives of thousands of mothers with unnecessary stress. In fact, there’s nothing wrong with restarting your career whenever you feel the desire to do so. There are childcare options out there and you can have your pick, practically speaking. The more important thing, however, is to remember that the best thing you can do for your child is to be happy and fulfilled. Resentment and its cousins regret and frustration always reflect on your relationship with your kids, and not in a beneficial way.
Alternatively, you might feel that professional development holds no more attraction for you; your world is entirely refocused and you’re quietly, almost unconsciously, certain that your real vocation is raising a new human being. So, what’s wrong with that? Nothing, of course. If you can afford leaving, do it, once you’ve thought it over in detail, making sure you’re aware of all the implications, for example, missing on some promotion opportunity that you’ve been dreaming of in your “before” life. If, on the other hand, you just can’t afford to stay at home without a job, try switching to something that will pay the bills but would require less effort on your part, so you have more time for your family. The professional world of today is ripe with opportunity.
You know what the best thing is? That whatever you choose, be it going back to work as soon as possible, or staying at home, you always have the chance to reconsider at some later point. Once you wrap your head around the idea that your child is now the most important thing in your life (and this isn’t always as easy and natural as it may sound), you have total freedom to rearrange your other priorities in a way that would make you — yes, that’s right, happy and complete, so you can be the best possible mom your child could have.