Baby on Board – Career Path Detour Ahead
By Sarah Hourihan
Early in life, I decided not to have children. This path — not for me. I’d be too busy with a career.
I married young and two weeks after the honeymoon, with my Caribbean sunburn still peeling, I was off to law school. My carefully planned career path had no room for adorable, yet oh so dependent, little babies.
Fast forward through 11 years of university, a decade of marriage, 3 degrees and a couple of careers. Wham! An unexpected roadblock: a mysterious desire to have children. What was this strange feeling? Dozens of university classes never covered this particular scientific force.
More concerning, I didn’t see myself as the doting, nurturing motherly type. Fussy, crying babies sent me into a panic. Where’s the manual? How does one respond to that type of cry? What about feeding an infant? I could barely cook for myself. Surely they can’t eat steak and ribs, sushi or shrimp?
Of course they were cuddly, cute and smelled so delightful after a bath…but this mysterious pull to have one of my own was strange and disconcerting.
After analyzing it for some time, I concluded it had something to do with my upcoming 30th birthday. Was this milestone somehow dragging me onto a bumpy road I never intended to travel? And where was the road map or some type of 18 Year Career Plan for Child Rearing?
Babies. They required a lot of management, I assumed. After babies become toddlers…then what? How would one manage them then, when they crawl and walk and have desires and tiny little plans of their own?
Egads…and what about the logistics of work, children, school, cooking, sports and juggling all the other aspects of LIFE? No spreadsheet could possibly plot all this effectively.
The teen years…now this I could probably manage. In my career as high school teacher I absolutely loved working with teenagers. So full of life, passion for new ideas, and a thirst for knowledge…teens were a joy.
Hmmm, if teens were so much fun to teach, then maybe babies wouldn’t be such a challenge. Babies: maybe they were just like teens, but in tinier packages.
There was also my husband to consider. (Not that any man is likely to turn down accelerated passion and frequency in the bedroom.) Really, he was on board. Whole-heartedly.
Here was a man destined to have children. I knew he’d be an incredible father: athletic and full of fun; patient beyond all measure (he put up with me and my university/career juggling for over 11 years); generous and loving; compassionate and nurturing. This was a man emotionally engineered to be a Dad.
The more I dwelled on this potential detour, the more I believed I could probably juggle just one baby and a career. How tough could it be? I mean we already had a dog which we loved dearly and she required constant attention, creative games, exercise, food and water. And my husband’s input…of course! Why wait?
Next thing you know… Christmas Day 1996 – we received the most miraculous gift ever. Our first daughter was born, delivered by the kindest, youngest doctor one could fathom, who happened to be dressed as a tiny Elf, all in the spirit of Christmas. Yes, it’s true, a doctor dressed as an Elf helped deliver our first baby. A truly magical day.
Our beautiful baby was angelic in every way. Blonde curls, blue eyes, porcelain skin and delicate fingers with tiny, seemingly manicured nails. As soon as I snuggled her, I knew my life had changed beyond anything measureable, spread-sheetable, imaginable.
Holding her, I seemed to be floating in another world… (and not entirely due to the morphine drip I was on due to a rough 18 hour labour and delivery). No, it was more than that.
Instinctively, I knew my life had changed in immeasurable ways. A miraculous gift was just delivered to us and I knew that life was now different. My career was instantly forgotten.
This sacred gift was my new career, our new life. Somewhere deep within, I knew that our baby was now in charge of a new path to a different and more fulfilling life.
Life had taken a sharp turn down an untraveled road, but what an intriguing new route it was. The 10 year career plan had just taken an abrupt detour. The driven and organized Type A Gal in me was fading, and I had no control over this mystical change. And this was fine with me.
Four daughters later–after shelving the law and MBA books and resigning from my job–I wouldn’t change this path for anything.
The tricky chapter, however, was how to re-emerge into the career world once my children were all in elementary school. But that is another chapter…
Editor’s note: Pink Gazelle Productions is very lucky to have Sarah on our team as part of that next chapter. Sarah is our Social Media Specialist…she’s the mysterious & incredibly organized force behind all our social media.
Sarah Hourihan has four daughters, ages 11 to 18, with her husband Graham. She juggles her time between her children, their numerous sport and school activities, her husband, a career, one cute dog and whatever else comes her way. A native Albertan born on the prairies, Sarah lives in Calgary and enjoys her summers in the sunny Okanagan, boating, swimming and basking in the beauty of British Columbia.
Next week’s Mothering Matters blog captures a perspective on the role that fathers do – or don’t – play in raising children.
If you are just joining the Mothering Matters blog series, these were the first 2 blogs:
To subscribe to Mothering Matters, here is the link.