parent opinion

'To the women worried about going on maternity leave, it'll be the best thing for your career.'

I took a solid four years off work when I had my two kids. 

It was longer than I ever thought I'd take, but back then I was fortunate I could afford financially to not work full-time. 

When I dipped back in, I went part time and did freelance work before I eventually got my rhythm back working full-time again. 

My boys are tween-age now and I have no choice but to work as a single parent and sole income earner. And I wouldn't want to not work full time. I love working. I did the hard yards when my kids were little and now there is time and space for me, for my career. 

But If I'm being really honest with myself, it impacted my earning capacity, superannuation and career progression massively.

Listen to Annaliese on This Glorious Mess speaking about balancing career and motherhood. Post continues below. 

I was a cautionary tale, one of those stats about how "one-third of the gender pay gap is attributed to women taking time out of the workforce to care for their family."

But at the end of the day, I don't really care. I'm glad I took that time. 

There is a period when children are little that something has to give. 

In a hetero-normative relationship it's typically the woman's career that gives. It was for me. But it doesn't have to be. 

I grew up in the '90s with a dad as a primary carer. Very progressive and rare for the time. My mum worked very hard and she was, and is still, very successful.

The thing that stood out for me reflecting on my childhood and the conversations I've had with my mum since was that she resented the time with us she missed. And when it came to having time with my own babies, I didn't want to have regrets.

Watch: Parenting 101. Post continues below.

Video via Mamamia.

I recall someone telling me once you have kids, your career will eb and flow depending on the needs of your family. You can scale it up or scale it down depending on capacity and financial needs. But nothing is permanent.

And I think that's something women who are considering having a family — or about to pop out a baby — need to hear. 

Because it's not the death of your career to have a child. It's just different.

Coming back into the workforce after taking a long time off, I just remember the crippling imposter syndrome. I was older than the people managing me. And I just felt a bit silly really. 

It takes time to find your rhythm again, for the equilibrium, the juggle and the dust to settle. But then once you do, it can be the making of you. 

Motherhood is not the death of your career. It gives you perspective, empathy, determination and when you have to be out the door for pickups, you don't muck about. 

It also drives you to find something that you love to do; if you are taking time away from your kids you want to make it worth your time.

At 40, I finally feel like I am in the job and position that I was meant to be in. It took a few years but you can get it back, there is hope. 

We often hear the question "can we have it all?"

In my experience you can have it all, just not all at once and at the same time. 

And there is always time to get you back. And when you do, it feels really bloody good. 

Feature Image: Supplied. 

Annaliese Todd is the host of This Glorious Mess. You can listen here. 

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