A few months before my first child was born, I had the opportunity to define my own maternity leave—one of the perks of starting your own business.
“It’s entirely up to you,” my co-founder kindly said to me. “There’s no pressure to come back if you want to take more time to adjust.”
I told her I would just need two months. I want to jump right back into it, I thought. I’m not going to let motherhood take over my life.
So two months after my daughter was born, I found myself looking into the mirror in the tiny bathroom of a NYC office, carrying a breast pump in my tote bag while holding the bottles with my two hands (I hadn’t had time to buy a nursing bra yet).
“What am I doing?” I asked my exhausted face.
Don’t resist the gift of motherhood.
A part of me has always been afraid of becoming a mother because I thought that would spell the end of my creative career.
Once you become a mother, you become obsolete, that was the unspoken thought that haunted me through my pregnancy. So while there was no explicit pressure on me to return to work after giving birth, I put immense pressure on myself to prove that I could continue exactly where I’d left off.
I put immense pressure on myself to prove that I could continue exactly where I’d left off.
I was forcing myself to adjust faster than I wanted to, not because I missed my work, but because I needed to show that I could do it all. Mine was not a choice made from joy, but from fear.
I needed my imaginary critics to know: My productivity won’t be affected. I’ll keep my marriage as strong as ever. Nothing will change.
What I didn’t realize then, was that I was needlessly resisting the gift that motherhood was offering me: a beautiful evolution of my identity. I had been trying to hang on to who I was before my child entered the world. Meanwhile, the person that I could become as a mother had even more to offer.
I was needlessly resisting the gift that motherhood was offering me: a beautiful evolution of my identity.
Embrace the evolution.
Soon after that moment in the bathroom, I spoke to my co-founder and told her that I’d been wrong. I needed more time. I finally began to let motherhood do its work on me.
The transition was not easy. Spending more time with my little one was not natural for me. I struggled to be present with her, and there were no lack of tears and bad days. However, the highs and lows of those early months were a necessary part of my process. I was changing, and despite the growing pains, the change was good.
I had been afraid that becoming a mother would hurt my creativity, but entering the world of my child gave me new lens to explore the world around me. I became more curious and more experimental. I even returned to my first love of making music. The slower pace of my extended maternity leave had made me see how the urge in me to sing and write songs was deep and powerful, and the desire to share my art was something I couldn’t ignore.
I had been afraid that becoming a mother would hurt my creativity, but entering the world of my child gave me new lens to explore the world around me.
I had given up on being an artist years ago because I’d been crushed by the fear of not being good enough. I was afraid of what other people might think, and those imaginary critics (who were never kind) sadly managed to stamp on the child in me that had always responded to the world through music.
However, those early months with my daughter re-connected me to my inner child, and I began learning to love them both. I saw how for too long I had let the ominous shadow of you’re never enough frighten me from doing what I loved to do. I needed my child’s glorious lack of self-consciousness to shine a light on my fears. She became my silent guide, and my inner child blossomed.
I finally returned to working part-time when my daughter was six months old, and I also began recording an album to tell the story of the journey I’d been on.
I see now that if I hadn’t let go of my need to prove myself, I would ironically have grown far less than I have in my past three years of motherhood. If I had listened to my fears of becoming obsolete and ignored my instinct to step back and take my time, I would have had far more moments like the one in the bathroom feeling stranded from my own reflection.
If I hadn’t let go of my need to prove myself, I would ironically have grown far less than I have in my past three years of motherhood.
I thought the challenge of motherhood was to hold on to everything I was before. These days, I am learning to ride the wave of parenting two little beautiful souls and letting go of the need to know exactly where that wave will carry me to.
Every mother has a different story. May you find the freedom to discover your own path.