Totum Stories: There is no roadmap for adjusting as a new mom
By Wendy Sylvester Thomas
South African/American/Canadian Friend, Business Lady, Mother, and Eternal Optimist
From the moment I was pregnant, my mind was consumed with planning for our baby. Every type of new born decoration, detergent, dust buster and diaper was purchased for our precious baby. I gave no thought to me and how I would adjust to being a mom. I never thought about how I would feel about my new life with a baby or how it would feel to leave our precious baby with a stranger when I returned to work. It was the moment when we returned from the hospital to our NYC apartment, bucket seat with baby in hand that I realized that baby did not come with a manual and that there was certainly no manual for me on adjusting to my new life.
Being pregnant was the closest I came to being a celebrity. From always getting a seat on the subway to strangers speculating on the baby gender, it was me that was in full focus. The day after we returned from the hospital, celebrity status became a very distant memory and baby needs became omnipresent. What about me and the anxiety I felt adjusting to this new life? I quickly realized that most questions were answered by trial and error and with many a Google search. I was lacking that central place to go, that central support system that could relate to my transforming life. My husband was beyond incredible as we adjusted to parents but no man could understand the emotional transformation that I was taking on.
As luck would have it, I had a few close friends who had babies weeks apart and together we branched into the new moms club together. Still, without guidance, we leaned on each other and those experiences we shared from the first few months bonded us for life. The stories we shared gave us the strength to adapt to our new lives as moms. As some brave moms returned to work, we relied on their guidance back into the workforce. That certainly did not come with a manual and lucky for me, I had great mentors who encouraged me along the way.
I have become so passionate about growing my career while being the dedicated mom that I have always wanted to be. Motherhood provided me with the opportunity to appreciate every moment in the day and to find that fine balance between work and family. The excitement of seeing my kids at the end of the day drives me at work. No matter how old my kids are, seeing them at the end of a work day is the best feeling in the world. My kids and husband are an inspiration to me and I can honestly say that since becoming a mom, I am a way stronger person. But every new phase brings a new set of challenges, concerns and the ever-present working mom guilt.
I find that keeping a sense of humor and positive attitude makes a big difference for me, and I try to mentor younger women at work who are looking for support. Whether it's working from home after the kids are asleep, jumping on the trampoline and into Nerf gun battles after work before stopping to change out of my dress, or dedicating myself to fully focusing on the kids on nights and weekends until they're in bed, I'm consistently looking for the best way to hold myself accountable to high standards at work and at home. And sometimes it's exhausting. But I'm proud of being able to show our boys (husband included!) that I can lead a team at work while maintaining my sense of humor and softness toward family and friends. I'm excited about the launch of this brand because it will mean that we can all give each other a bit of a hand and acknowledge that there's no one way to make it all work.