“Your priorities will change”, they said. “Your career won’t matter any more,” they told me. On the first count they were right. But on the second they were oh, so wrong.
The truth is I was never maternal. But I was never hugely ambitious either. I worked hard in my job, but I never really had the passion and drive to bring myself to work beyond my hours.
That all changed when I had my first child, at the age of 35.
Everyone told me I wouldn’t care about my job anymore after I had kids. So it took me completely by surprise when I found that having kids actually gave me a drive and desire to succeed I’d never experienced before.
You see, when I had my first son, Hugo, I became obsessed with starting up my new business. Every moment he was having a nap, down to sleep for the night I logged on, eager to learn new skills. I lived for the moment when I could get out my laptop and sign into my Instagram course, or scour my chosen Facebook groups for tips on making jewellery or how to get my business off the ground.
So why on earth did I feel like this? Shouldn’t I be wanting to spend every waking hour with my kids?
Well, I have a few theories.
Firstly, after I had my first child, time went so fast! Never before had a week, month, year gone so quickly. My biggest fear has always been regretting not trying something. So the fact that life was suddenly going so bloody fast and I hadn’t even found my passion yet slightly terrified me.
Second, although I love my kids to bits, I never wanted them to define me. I loved maternity leave, but I also wanted to do something for me. Plus, I’ve got to be honest, growing and raising a tiny human made me kinda realise I could do anything!
Thirdly, I was acutely aware that working an hour’s drive away in an office meant I didn’t get to call the shots on how I spent my time. Although my workplace was very flexible, I still craved the flexibility I’d get from working from home every day, managing my own time. I hated that when they started school, I’d have to send them to after-school clubs every day. I wanted complete control.
The feeling didn’t go away when I went back to work for a year after my first. But here’s the thing: many people assumed I was no longer interested in a career. I found this extremely frustrating. I mean, no one assumes a man wants to take a back seat in his career once he’s had children. Why on earth would I be any different?
So did this feeling stop when I had my second son, two years later? No. I became even more driven!
Since I had Dylan I’m possessed with a desire to succeed like never before. I log on every night as soon as the kids are in bed to work on my business. For the first time I understand what it’s like to be a workaholic. This doesn’t mean I don’t love spending time with my kids, it just means I’ve finally found my passion.
So I just want to say to anyone out there: although it’s great if Mums want to slow down their career when they’ve got young kids, this isn’t the same for everyone. So please, please, please, don’t judge a woman’s ambition on how many car seats are in her car.