I remember when I was pregnant with my first baby, being told all the time about how my priorities will change, that I wouldn’t want to go back to work and that my life will revolve around doting on this screaming, pink, little creature.
But.. That didn’t happen. Almost as soon as Caleb was born I was overcome with a burning desire to be a success in every aspect of my life. I wanted him to be proud of his Mum. I wanted to be his motivation and his inspiration in life. I wanted to achieve everything I dreamed of and I wanted to do it for him.
Despite what I had been told, my drive and ambition to build a successful life wasn’t halted by this baby, if anything it was heightened by my desire to provide for him as best I could. But, for a long time I wondered if it was unnatural for me to want to go back to work when Caleb was only four months old. I compared myself to other mums that spent their day at the park rather than in the office and wondered if it meant that they loved their children more than I loved mine? I have now come to learn that we all love in thousands of different ways and my way is to lead by example and show my kids that if you want something, you go out and get it.
One wonderful fiancé, two more beautiful children and six years later this hasn’t changed. Yes, having children has changed the way I am pursuing my career but it certainly hasn’t dampened my desire to get there and I no longer feel guilty about it – in fact I’m proud of it!
To anyone else that has battled, or is battling with parental guilt, I would say this, don’t be afraid to put yourself first. You were not born into the role of a mother or a father and no one can tell you exactly how to do it, but you mustn’t lose sight of the fact that you did have a life before children (even I struggle with this concept – what did I do with all my spare time?!) and you owe it to yourself, and to them, to keep that person alive. It is absolutely ok to still want time without the kids, to look forward to going to work or to eat chocolate in secret because you don’t want to share. If you’re still struggling to shrug off the guilt, try looking at it this way – one day your children will be your age. Imagine that you just found out that your mum was an aspiring author, but when she realised success would mean travelling for book signings and PR when you were still young she put her dreams aside and never picked them back up again. Or maybe she fell pregnant whilst studying to become a doctor and never continued her studies as she wanted to devote all of her attention to you.
Your children will have their whole life ahead of them at the point that they step out into the world on their own – show them what they can make of it by doing it for yourself first.