I still remember being in the delivery room, wondering why my baby girl was not handed to me after birth, but rushed to a small table at the corner of the room. There were no cries, but I still didn’t believe there was a problem. As it turns out, she had umbilical cord wrapped around her neck twice, so she was purple, pale and unable to breathe on her own. A few of the longest seconds of my life later, I heard her little crying voice. Everything was okay.
Then, we quickly dove into the scary, nervous, and sleepless nights of those early months when only one thing mattered: keeping this fragile and delicate life safe from harm.
Fast forward several years to the Lollie Tots launch in August when I finally risked it all to pursue my passion and make a dream a reality. Through the business building process, I often find myself looking back and reflecting on my journey here. And I start to wonder what the journey of motherhood really is.
I have a five-year-old daughter, and I often think about the times I had the opportunity to do something else along the way: going back to work, taking a class, or going back to school entirely. Every action or inaction was chosen by prioritizing my baby. She has always come first.
As we dive into taking care of our infants, google every growth spurt or sleep regression, and watch them reach every milestone on the charts, it’s easy to feel our own identities slipping away. We are becoming mothers, and for some of us, it means forgetting or giving up our personal goals.
The internal struggle for fulfillment that most mothers have is simply part of the joyous ride of motherhood. The joy we experience holding our babies and watching them grow helps to diminish our own personal needs, and we just live in the moment.
I don’t define the journey of motherhood by how many times I've been woken up during the night, or whether I chose to breastfeed or use formula. I think the journey of Motherhood is about a woman's mental transformation.
I'm happy to have ended up where I am today, but in the 5 years since I became a mother, it's an understatement to say that I've faced a few challenges.
- A struggle to determine my self-worth
I was working when I had my baby girl five years ago, and the moment she arrived, I couldn't bear the thought of anyone else taking care of her. My husband and I decided that we would try to make it work as a single income household so I could stay at home with our daughter. She was one and a half by the time I finally started thinking about what I would do when she was older. While I enjoyed being with her, worrying about my professional future was always in the back of my mind. It certainly took a toll on my confidence and diminished my sense of self-worth.
- A constant search for the next career
In the next few years, I constantly bounced between wanting to have my own business and going back to what I used to do. My old career would kickstart "instant" income while starting a business would cost money. However, a business of my own would allow me to stay close to my toddler. I've had a few business ideas I entertained, but I also hunted for jobs at the same time. I would often apply to everything under the sun and hear nothing back. Needless to say it was crushing my confidence with each résumé I sent out. I started to worry about who was going to hire me because I've been doing “nothing” but taking care of a baby. The more time passed, the less confidence I had... and the more depressed I became.
- Odd jobs for supplemental income
Unexpectedly, I was approached to act as an interpreter for immigration cases. I was ecstatic at first because it meant extra income. But more importantly, someone valued my skills and wanted to work with me. It was just the confidence boost I needed! While the money was decent, my services were rarely needed, so it didn’t prove to be a reliable or consistent income.
I've also worked a few other part-time jobs in customer service and retail. I didn't love any of them, but it was something I could do and still take care of my daughter. It was nice in a way... while it lasted. However, those were just temporary fixes and a false sense of productivity. It didn’t give me any long-term confidence.
- Realization and frustration
I continued to job search while dreaming about opening a business of my own. Eventually, I was offered a job in the city, and that only made me realize that I just couldn't go back to a full-time job where I'm away from my daughter all day. As happy, grateful, and excited as I was to have proven myself "hirable" again, I had to turn it down. Considering the commute time and the overtime required in the industry, I decided that it would take more than good money to keep me away from my baby girl.
Although it was a bit of a relief to confirm what I wanted and needed, I was still frustrated. I needed to be doing something more, but I was still just a stay-at-home mom. I felt stuck. I'm not having any more children, so it’s inevitable that I would one day need to have something more in my life than just my kid.
- Guilt over wanting to go back to work
When I decided to become a stay-at-home mom, I didn’t have a plan. I wasn’t sure how long I was going to do it. We’re a bilingual family, so I made teaching my daughter Mandarin Chinese a career of sorts by exclusively talking to her in Mandarin since birth. As she grew older, the burden of teaching only grew heavier, which fueled guilt about wanting to go back to work. I was afraid I'd rob her of the opportunity to become truly fluent in Mandarin.
On the other hand, I have been aching for more human interaction on a professional level. Every time I walk into an office building, I crave a workplace and dealing with adults. I started searching online on how a stay-at-home mom can effectively job hunt, and I've found a few useful sites that I'd love to share with my fellow mamas. The most important thing we need to remember is this: don’t apologize for choosing to become a stay-at-home mom—especially at an interview. We should proudly own this decision.
How Working Moms and Moms Returning to Work Can Succeed in Job Interviews
- Be practical
If we choose to go back to doing what we used to do, then we need to sharpen up our basic skills. Revisit the software you used or learn some new apps. For some of us, it might be time to reevaluate what we really want to do now especially if we didn't really enjoy what we did in the past. In other words, we have a second chance to build a career after some lessons learned. By choosing a new path, we may need to start at a lower level than we did before. Don’t let lower pay and smaller titles discourage you. Rewards will come, just enjoy the ride.
The motherhood journey is not entirely about babies, it’s about finding ourselves while we take care of others. Now that we’re mothers, we have to get to know the person we’ve become. Mothers are strong and resourceful. As cliche as it sounds, we can do anything that we put our minds to. It may not be as fast as we’d like, and it may require a few detours, but if we keep at it, we’ll reach our goals. And we will prosper.