“Now that your son has started daycare, what are you going to do at home all day?”
These were the words of a well-meaning human to one of my friends who decided to pause her career after her child was born. She went back to work for a few weeks but realized she was deeply called to full-time parenting & as much as it was hard to leave an incredible job in tech, she decided to be bold and take a break.
When we connected, she was so alive, and deeply connected with her values and sense of purpose in this season. She was powerfully owning her choice to pause, breathe, and savor this precious phase as a new mom.
Her story deeply moved me for a few different reasons. For one, she owned her choice knowing well the costs and trade-offs of this decision on multiple dimensions. She was brave to define ambition on her own terms and wasn’t on a timeline to reach a specific milestone. She unapologetically told me that her worth is way more than what goes into her resume. And finally, her deep self-trust that with her skills, education, & talent, she’d find a path forward for herself.
I am sharing her story because we don’t hear stories of “ambitious” mothers pausing either after childbirth, for mid-career transitions, or in other seasons of life. A pause to simply savor what we have, experiment with a new path, or give space & energy to other different pursuits that don’t always have room to breathe in the regular seasons of our life.
Once her son went to daycare, she wanted to give herself space to recover from what all mothers can attest to be a very intense first year of adjustment. She wanted to make time to read, rediscover herself, learn something new & simply practice being more human!
Yes, there is absolutely an element of privilege here. Certain professions make re-entry easier & the financial cushion of a partner & savings aren’t available to everyone. Having said that, there is always a risk & courage is needed to do what’s not the status quo. But it’s fascinating that the more options available to us, the deeper the voice of fear & resistance to uncertainty in our minds, & we are drawn to the worst-case scenario because there is more to lose.
My point isn’t that every woman should take a year off after giving birth but I hope we can normalize that more women want this, even the ones who aspire for big goals professionally. Not only do our government & work policies not support this, but our culture also doesn’t give mothers permission & space to own this very primal longing many women have after becoming a parent.
I hope this story also inspires you to find your definition of success & ambition & that you can also give yourself permission to rest, & savor while gracefully making room for your ambitions remembering that our lives & careers are long and that there is often room for both in different seasons of our life.