The hardest part of becoming a mother for me was the personal shift of where I found self-worth. I’ve always found my purpose in work when I can measure the results of my efforts in making an organization more impactful, a process more efficient, a team more cohesive or a partnership more powerful.
With parenting there’s no retrospective on each milestone, no feedback mechanism that says you met success criteria, no tasks to tick off. I’d get through a day of maternity leave and feel happy, but also untethered. The immense task of being responsible for another life combined with the foundational shift of not knowing how to pinpoint what I was “achieving” or how to take control the situation left me feeling unsettled and rudderless. I’m sure the lack of sleep didn’t help either! I’d ask myself “what did I achieve today?” and come up blank.
It took me months to shift my point of view and see the bigger picture: my builder nature meant I worked to build a community around my son Clark; my drive meant that I got us out of the house every day to see something new; the achiever in me meant that I let Clark find his own way rather than coddling him; and the relationship builder in me meant that I still showed up for my friends even when I was too tired to see straight. They were subtle victories, but they were victories.
After eight months of leave I started a new job on a new career path. I felt so ready to dive back into my “old self.” I quickly realized that being a mom had changed my approach to work in fundamental ways. I’m able to celebrate the small successes where I hadn’t been before. I’ve gained patience and am more forgiving of myself and others as we trip and learn from our stumbles.
And more than anything, being a mom has put it all into perspective - at the end of a crazy day of work I still get to come home to a kiddo who has learned to love the world in a whole new way today.
Maura is a mama, partner, traveler, quilter, foodie and self-proclaimed nerd. She spends her days as a change manager at Propeller, a management consulting firm of fixers and change makers who love the adventure of solving complex problems. Before joining Propeller, she led community initiatives at Umpqua Bank and served as vice president of client services at VolunteerMatch, where she helped more than 150 corporations develop and strengthen their volunteering programs through technology. Maura holds a bachelor’s degree in international studies and studio art from Macalester College.