Just being mum (published in PR Week)

My opinion article recently published in PR Week

When people ask me about whether I’m excited about having a baby I always respond “yes, absolutely” (well that’s what they want to hear and because, of course, it is true). However what I don’t tell them about is the very next feeling that hits me when they ask this; utter fear. Oh, but I’m not fearful about putting on weight, swollen ankles or feeling tired. I’m not even anxious about a long and painful labour; rather, I’m fearful about leaving my job in PR, if only for a short while.

It’s somewhat embarrassing to admit this, because in many ways it may make me look like a bad mummy even before I have started. As if I am not grateful for this wonderful gift, when truly I am. Yet I still have this deep-rooted fear of how I will deal with going off on maternity leave, how I will let go, pass over the reins to a maternity cover, and worst of all, whether I can deal with going from PR professional, to simply ‘mum’.

Am I the only one feeling like this? I can’t find anyone writing about this issue of maternity leave anxiousness, and it is never discussed in the pregnancy books or at antenatal classes. None of my friends seem to mention it either…

It was only recently that I decided to be honest and commit my very biggest fears to paper (or rather to screen) in the form of my new mummy blog that I realised I’m not the only one. There are women all over the world panicking about letting go, anxious about going off on maternity leave, fearful over losing their identity – and all the time feeling guilty about these emotions. Yet it is like the elephant in the room and something no one in willing to admit to.

I have always loved my career in PR, and my clients and my team mean the world to me. I have also, up until recently, believed that my career defines me, makes me into the professional that I am. So how will I cope if I can’t do what defines me on a daily basis? How can I continue to be me? How will I deal with losing my identity? All these questions I agonised over in the run up to my maternity leave, resulting in my last few months being stressful and emotional.

But now, a month into maternity leave, I have realised that what defines me is not, in fact, my career in PR. Rather, it is my deep rooted values that define me. And these values won’t change whether I am at work or at home. In fact, they will remain intrinsic in me until my return.

I don’t doubt that the coming year will be hard – just being mum- but now I know what defines me, and it is so much more than my day job. So it is with some trepidation that I start this next chapter of my life, thankfully knowing that I am not alone and reassured that it is ok to feel like this.

This article was recently published in PR Week. Find the article here: https://www.prweek.com/article/1445356/why-ive-keeping-mum-maternity-leave-anxiousness#vUsyZITXd0DOA7B1.02 and please do feel free to share it.


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