A memory popped up from my first business trip when my first son was three months old. I added a caption saying, “This was so hard!” but the truth is it was more than hard. It was life-changing.
I vividly remember the mixed emotions that consumed me when it was time to return to work. When I first learned about my pregnancy, I assured all of my colleagues that “Nothing will change! I’ll be off for three months and be back before anyone even notices!”
The truth is once my child arrived, I wondered how I could be anywhere else besides the couch with my newborn. One year after I spoke those words to my coworkers, I wondered how I could transition from my cocoon at home and appear back in the world as the confident, tenacious salesperson I once was.
Numbers and meetings didn’t matter to me at that moment. I was still learning this new human who was depending on me for everything—even his milk! Soon, I’d have to leave him at home with a stranger.
Arriving at my first business meeting, I felt like I was in a costume of the old me and hoping nobody would see through the facade.
I smiled when people asked about the baby while inside it felt like my heart dropped somewhere behind my belly button. Ironic that three months prior, his little body lived in that very location.
The anxiety of being away from my baby felt like I was walking through a haunted house and just waiting for someone to pop out and say “boo!”
The fear consumed me. What was he doing? Thinking? Oh, I could just imagine his little body laying on mine and smell his sweet scent.
Walking through the airport, I looked at parents in a whole new light. My thoughts would race . . . Is that woman missing her baby? Oh, look at that father FaceTiming his child. I wonder if it will ever be acceptable to bring my family on these trips with me. I want to go home . . .
Over time, my confidence grew and my support system became stronger. Checklists for trips now included pumps, bottles, and coolers. While my coworkers spent their downtime socializing, I ran to my hotel room to call home.
Leaving for my career did reignite a sense of myself, but I also learned I didn’t have to be the exact same woman I was before. In fact, I was a better version of myself.
Experiencing the miracle of childbirth and now having a family relying on me gave me a new sense of purpose. My career remained a top priority because I knew what it could provide for my family. Over time, I started to prioritize my fitness knowing my children depended on a healthy mom. All the while, I had entered this coveted universe of other working parents who were eager to talk about their kids and show off their latest milestones. After all, our family becomes our why and ultimately drives our motivation.
Fast forward to today and my tiny baby is now four-and-a-half years old and his brother is almost two years old. They know Mom works to help provide for their family, and they witness the importance of my role. My husband makes their time together special when I’m away, and we all look forward to my return. Meanwhile, I’ve landed my first management role and became the first female sales leader of our company.
My sons are seeing that moms CAN do it all, but it doesn’t happen overnight. A few rounds of trial and error, some tears, and a strong support system have helped me find my way as both a mom and a manager.