Belinda Elworthy pens an open letter to her husband ...
This life we’ve built together could never be described as a walk in the park. It’s a life of compromise, but also one of joy, love and fulfilment. I know that our life isn’t for everyone, but it is for us, and for this I want to say thank you.
Thank you for honouring my desire to work at a capacity that fulfils me, even though it would be easier in many ways if I didn’t. Like you, loving my children and loving my work combines to make a happier, better me and even though the challenges and joys of motherhood enrich me deeply, motherhood doesn’t define me on its own.
Our worlds changed when we welcomed children into our lives… and nothing was ever the same again. Except that it was. When the fog (a good, but very foggy, fog) of new motherhood lifted, I realised that deep down I was still me… and that the ‘me’ I once knew hadn’t really changed. Work is part of who I am.
What I understand now, is that through motherhood, our old identity is not lost or replaced… through motherhood our identity is expanded. Motherhood has shown me that there is always more of ourselves to unlock. What I know, is that embracing motherhood doesn’t have to mean surrendering the other important parts of ourselves that we come to know before our children arrive.
Like you, work energises and enriches me, and that positivity spills over into my parenting. Whilst society may spruik the challenges of juggling home and work, despite the often delicate juggle, I know I am better equipped as a mother because of my work, not in spite of it. Likewise, I know that my experiences as a mother have made me more fierce and focused yet also more understanding and compassionate professionally.
Like you, when my heart and mind are full, I’m better able to lead our family with the gusto and presence I believe in, and I know our family gets the very best of me when my cup is full, because I’m better able to fill the little, but thirsty cups of our children. Through working motherhood, I have learned the value and practice of prioritisation, presence, boundaries and of letting go of unworthy distractions and guilt… oh the guilt!
I now challenge the guilt I feel when I take on society’s, (or a friend’s) impression of what a good mother should look like, as my own truth. The guilt that accompanies wanting something more, when the day-to-day of motherhood doesn’t invigorate you. The guilt of having choices when it comes to working when many don’t have the same options. The guilt of thriving without my children.
In the absence of guilt and inadequacy, joy and freedom arrives and I can focus instead on love… and helping our children to develop into well-rounded, independent, confident and kind human beings.
Our boys see us model the values we believe in, and the benefits of us working as a team. They’re learning that looking after the home is everyone’s job, and that sharing the load at home means that everybody wins. Thank you for supporting me, just as I support you – there is no playbook or blueprint to follow as we create our family life. When you step back and think, you can see that we’re all forging ahead in the best way we know how, with the resources we have.
Thank you for helping me to unapologetically own who I am, regardless of what society or social media says motherhood looks like. Thank you for supporting me to not be afraid to admit that working in a job I love, and embracing motherhood, together is what lights my fire, even if this is not always a popular or socially celebrated choice. Thank you for truly partnering with me to redefine motherhood and fatherhood in our own imperfect way, that makes sense for our family, and us as individuals.
Most of all, thank you for believing in me, when I struggled to believe in myself. Even a short career break weighs heavily on your confidence – and without self-belief, the totally achievable can feel ridiculously ambitious.
Regaining my professional confidence was game-changing for me and I now see the same transformation in the incredible women we work with every day… women who don’t realise (or have forgotten) how capable and brilliant they are. With confidence reclaimed, ambition and clarity can, and do return… and so does the fire in your belly required survive the journey back to work that truly fits you.
Belinda Elworthy is Co-Founder of shethrives.org and a mother to three handsome, hectic boys. An award-winning Career Strategist & Mentor for women, she is passionate about supporting women who have taken a career break to return to work that fills their soul and their bank account, and fits their family. Download SheThrives ‘Ultimate Guide to Returning to Work After Kids’ here.