“Just have a baby,” they’d tell me. Or, “Ohmigod, you need to get pregnant already.”
I cannot even tell you how appalled I was by these statements! At the time, I was married and while having kids was definitely part of our plan, it was at least a few years off as we focused on our careers and, well, having fun.
These friends had babies at home and, although they meant well, their comments offended me to no end. In fact, they caused me to lose a bit of respect for them; I questioned how becoming a mom could suddenly diminish all of their career aspirations and outside interests. In the past, they would have commiserated with me, maybe exchanged war stories. We would have ordered an extra bottle of wine and talked shop: how you have to bust your butt to move up to the next level but how it’s all worth it, how lucky we are to have these opportunities, career-wise, and how we were going to one day be big names in our respective industries.
Instead, they told me to get knocked up. It just seemed so anti-feminist! So old-school. So wrong.
And then I went ahead and had a baby. It was several years later, when the timing was right for me, but being on mat leave was a treat. “It’s so nice dealing with a real baby instead of a bunch of big babies,” I’d tell my colleagues. They’d laugh and fill me in on the office gossip while I’d meander through parks with my little guy.
Eventually I returned to my job. It was great to be back and I had forgotten how much I missed working. That is, until a couple of years in, when lots of company changes and some major politics went down. I won’t get into the details, but it felt like I was on a sinking ship and at times I felt desperate to get out. “I just need to have another baby,” I found myself admitting to friends, and I was shocked to hear those words coming out of my own mouth.
The truth is, I always wanted more than one child and, well, that seemed as good a time as any. I won’t say I attempted to get pregnant just to take a break from work that would be crazy! But I was more willing to just go for it in that exact moment. I dreamed not only of growing my family and welcoming new life into this world, but also of being at home for a full 12 months (that’s how long we get in Canada). It’s horrible to admit, I know, but the thought did enter my mind.
Round two took longer than anticipated (that’s a post for another day) but I now have two beautiful boys and I feel so incredibly grateful. It just so happens that the company I was working for did fold while I was on mat leave, which meant I had no job to go back to. It was stressful, of course, but it also meant I could finally take a stab at freelancing something I had wanted to do for years but just never had the guts to pull off.
I would still never tell a childless friend bitching about work to go and have a baby. There’s obviously way more to having a kid than merely escaping a lousy job; it’s a lifelong commitment and the single most important decision in any woman’s life. There’s no question that becoming a parent makes you see the world in a whole new way; sometimes that’s all it takes to get on a better path career and all.