When my son was born four weeks earlier, I accepted the need to send clients from my hospital bed while I was in labor. I accepted the hectic scramble to finish the product launches that I wanted to finish before he arrived. I accepted the nocturnal feedings and the gallons of coffee it took to get through the day. What I wanted to reject was the guilt that other people have tried to attack me.
"You only take one month off?"
I spent 19 years as a marketer in San Francisco, launching multi-million dollar campaigns for people like Microsoft and Twitter. Four and a half years ago, however, I followed my heart and founded a consulting firm that helped yoga and spiritual teachers introduce online products and increase their revenue. It's the work of my soul, but it's very exhausting, and when I found out I was pregnant, I intended to release only a month after birth.
When I told friends about my plans, I often heard reactions like these, "You take only a month off, you know you'll never get those years back, right?" Even my husband asked if I was sure it was enough time. And that was before my son appeared unexpected a month earlier ̵
I know that these people were just trying to express concern, but the message behind it was that I should feel guilty about my career and my son. Like all parents, I have moments of doubt. I sometimes wonder if I'm a good mother, but I do not regret giving so much to my business when my son was little. In fact, I do not think I'm even putting my work before my family. Instead, I believe that I teach my son one of the most important lessons in life:
The best way to fight remorse is with self-knowledge.
Parents teach their children through behavioral modeling. What I model for my son is not everything for my business (though I put my heart and soul into my work). Instead, it is a total commitment to choose the kind of life I want instead of just downloading my values from my family or society.
When it comes to taking a baby off, many parents have no choice. But for those of us who are lucky enough to have options, a mother could take six months off. Another one could not take time. A third family might decide that it is best for dad to be the primary caregiver. The most important thing is not the details. It is the case that families make a choice that suits the needs and personalities of the people involved.
My choice was mine alone, and I would never press it on anyone – and to be honest, I would not necessarily recommend SMS from the delivery room, if you can help it. I had some very time-critical product launches, and since my son came four weeks earlier and unexpectedly, my clients had no idea they contracted at four o'clock in the morning, had scheduled an appointment for a doctor anyway at 7:45 pm and was brought in just before 1:00 pm Unaware that any of this was happening, my clients sent me a text message, and given that it was a natural birth, when the team took it from me to measure everything and do the rest, and me I could not have it. I felt brief, I felt good … that's why I just responded to my work messages.
What I recommend is deciding how you want to deal with the parent. Make this plan a place of awareness of who you are and what you value. I have seen a therapist for years, meditate regularly (a practice that I would recommend to anyone), and my husband and I discussed the kind of parents we had hoped to deepen before we had our son. There are many ways to learn about yourself, but once you have done this, those present need to point out that you should feel guilty.
These are my three best tips to avoid this blame:
1. Do the preliminary work / mental planning and really think about what's important to you.
. 2 Develop the muscle to give yourself permission to choose and create what you want.
. 3 Exercise daily (be it while walking, meditating or practicing yoga) to help you stay clear and continue making active choices.
The more you live with awareness and the more you are aware of what you want, the more you can create your own world. And you can give yourself permission to be right – no matter what other people think or say.
And this is not just a lesson for parents.
I have learned this lesson from my son, and I hope to pass it on to him, but you do not have to be a parent to experience moments of intense self-questioning. There are many intersections where others will try to tell you that they know what you need better than you. Starting your own business, getting a big promotion, or changing careers are all milestones that force you to move through a new paradigm.
These are crucial moments, but also the choices you most likely doubt. If you face these shifts of life from a place of consciousness, and if you take the time to really know what you want, there is no room for regret. No matter what someone says or implies, they will not look back and say, "Why did I do that? It was just because my parents or my company drove me that way!" And that is real freedom.
Destinee Berman was named a strategist and "secret visionary" behind the most recognized yoga and mindfulness online schools today. It helps holistic practitioners increase their impact forever by helping them to grow their business in an authentic, authentic way and help them serve more people. More information at www.destineeberman.com.