When I first went back into the workforce after taking time out to care for our first two children I found it really difficult. For some reason I constantly questioned my expertise, experience and what I had to offer. It was all self-imposed, there was no-one or no particular situation that fuelled these thoughts, but it did take me a long time to re-build my confidence. Looking back, it seems silly, all that energy wasted in wondering whether or not what I had to offer was good enough.
I remember first reading Sheryl Sandberg’s book ‘Lean In’ and having so many ‘Ah-ha’ moments. Stories I read about others experiences and situations, carbon copies of my own. It was a comfort to learn that other women who take time out from their career to focus on their families often face these same challenges. Not just the juggle of managing your work / life balance, but the constant questioning of yourself and what you can contribute.
To some of you, this probably sounds hard to relate to. I know my partner struggled to comprehend it. He couldn’t understand how I could go from the senior role I had before kids, where I was confident, competent and driven to succeed – to questioning my judgement on nearly everything I did. Maybe I spent too many hours having coffees and listening to baby jargon where perhaps part of my brain really did turn to mush!
Fast forward five and a half years, we now have three children, our youngest is now four and he will be starting school later this year. I’m not sure how I’m going to feel about him going to school as this date approaches. I do get emotional, so no doubt I’ll have a tear, but there is a part of me that is really looking forward to being able to invest more time in my career, our businesses and myself.
Even though I would do anything for my family, I feel that I have compromised many things over the past few years. There are so many things that I would have liked to have achieved already, but I just haven’t had the time to do so. I think this is why when you receive a phone call like I did today, giving me some news I was so eager to hear, knowing that others value what I can contribute. It makes such a difference to your mindset and your confidence.
I obviously have goals, but in recent years I have been reluctant to document and commit to them. I think there was a part of me that felt that if I did this, I would get to the end of the year and look at the negative side of not achieving them because they were just too ambitious. I have to be realistic as I’m a full time mum in addition to the hours I invest into our businesses. I can’t do everything now and I need to enjoy the time I have with my family and not be disappointed in myself if things take a little longer. Life is short and I want to enjoy the time I have with my kids while they are young.
It may be taking me a little longer to reach some of my goals than I thought I would have a decade ago, but today I’m really proud of myself. I have worked really hard to get to this point in my life. I look forward to more of these days and phone calls like this!