The day I finished uni there was no doubt in my mind that I would find a job in my chosen field of photography. I applied for literally anything with the word photography anywhere in the job description regardless of my complete lack of experience I was sure that if I could get an interview I could get the job.
I calmly walked into interviews with a huge smile on my face and told them why they needed me. I always got the job, every single time. One former boss told me they only got me in for the interview because they found it amusing that I had applied. I got the job. I never had any doubt that I wouldn’t.
Right now you are probably thinking what a cocky little madam I must have been. You are right – I probably was, but all I can think to myself is ‘Where has that girl gone?’
When I became pregnant in 2012 my world turned upside down, the baby was both planned and desperately wanted but I had no idea how much it would change me. I didn’t feel like the same person pregnant, people treated me differently both at work and out and about and I kind of let them because I did feel totally bewildered and like I couldn’t be that confident girl anymore. I think it’s because I felt strange in my own body, I felt ill and people treated me differently, like I was weak and vulnerable, which is exactly how I felt.
When I gave birth to my first child Evelyn I was totally overwhelmed by my love for her, a love so huge it could easily topple me over and become terrifying. I was scared of everything, there were dangers everywhere, the weight of responsibility was heavy on me. I was an emotional wreck, partly because of tiredness but also because I had absolutely no idea what I was doing and I was terrified of messing it up.
Gradually I found my feet with motherhood but as many of us do I found it hard to keep in touch with work. It just seemed like another world to me, the lack of adult conversation, sleepless nights and crazy hormones made me feel a million miles away from that girl who was so sure of herself and instead made me tell myself that my brain had turned to mush and that I was incapable of being that person anymore.
I did go back to work after a year's maternity and it was hard. Life had unintentionally moved on without me. I felt that I had been a bit side-lined; if I’m honest I probably side-lined myself with my lack of confidence. I had just started to find my feet and maybe see a bit of the old me again when I found out I was pregnant with number two. Again she was planned but she came along considerably quicker than anticipated!
Becoming a mum the second time round was a lot easier for me. I was more confident in my role and I felt like I knew what I was doing and could trust my instincts. However my confidence as anything other than a mum was completely shot. I was 4 stone over my pre-baby weight and the strain of two small children and the endless sleep deprivation had taken it’s toll on me. I never had time for any self care, I had no money to get my hair done or buy new clothes and anyway what was the point? I had the clingiest baby in the world and could never go out anywhere.
I just completely lost myself and the problem is that even three years after having my second child I still haven’t reappeared! I go to work every day and enjoy my job, but I know if I hadn’t had children I would be much further in my career by now. For me the sacrifice is 100% worth it, I wouldn’t change a thing but I really wish I could get my confidence back to start pursuing my career again.
I sometimes see jobs advertised that I would like to go for, that I am definitely qualified and experienced enough for. I think about applying and then I start telling myself, they won’t want to be flexible around my childcare, they will want me to work late or travel lots, they will want someone younger or cooler. I sabotage myself until I decide not to apply because I will never get it anyway.
This blog was something I started about a year ago to try and get some of myself back, to work on something that was all mine that I could be proud of. To have somewhere that I could write about the things I care about and start to feel like I am capable of doing the things I dream of.
I know that I don’t have to choose between my career and being a mother, I know that this is something in my own head that I have to work through. I do however feel that if being a mother and the amazing skills that are required (organization, multitasking, timekeeping, stamina, selflessness, teamwork, compassion, understanding, patience, negotiation skills to name just a few) were valued more by society and highlighted more in the media it would really help with my confidence and with getting myself out of this slump.
There is zero point to this post except to share, I would love to know if you have felt or feel the same. I would also love to know if you have any tips on getting your work mojo back after having kids.
Sam is a Picture Director and mum of two living in West London, check out her blog, The Pushy Stylist. She can also be found on Instagram documenting her daily life as a working mum who loves to shop. Follow her @thepushystylist.