Before I had babies, I said things like: “I’ll just go straight back to work and put my kids into daycare – no worries.”
But as anyone who has grappled with these decisions knows, it’s not as simple as that.
If we give up our career we lose our capacity to earn our own money and the gift of doing something professionally fulfilling. If we put our babies into care so we can forge a career, we lose precious moments we can never get back, risking them walking, talking and sitting up by themselves for the first time with someone else.
And if we try to do both we run the risk of burning out before we learn we can have it all, but not at once.
And yet, having it all is expected of women now: a thriving career, a perfect home and a happy, healthy family.
We want picturesque holidays, Sex and the City-level friendships and Fifty Shades of Grey sex (until you’re married, in which case most of us will settle for fifty shades of once a fortnight).
We run ourselves ragged trying to get it, and when we inevitably drop the ball at work, home or with our nearest and dearest, we feel like we’re failing.
But the system is rigged because ‘all’ is infinite-and that makes it impossible. There simply aren’t enough hours in the day or years in a lifetime, for anyone, ever.
Which means that to do anything well, something has to give.
I’ve made a lot of mistakes. Some I made a few times just to make sure I’d really clocked them. And for the longest time they all contributed to a huge amount of shame that coloured my perception of who I was. It felt like I was wearing a thick winter jacket in a swimming pool, and no matter how hard I tried, I could barely keep my head above water.
So, here’s how I do it all now: badly. Not terribly, but not well. When it comes to loving my girls, I knock it out of the park, but the truth is, outside of that, there’s no perfect way to be a parent. Knowing that, and that you will frequently fuck things up, is the only way to survive.
My daughters are the best thing that have ever happened to me. It’s my job to raise them to be smart, savvy, kind women, but more than anything I hope they grow up to be resilient. Because life is hard and shitty things happen, and no matter how much I would like to I can’t protect them from that.
One of the things I can do is to warn them (and you) about some of the bullshit we are fed about motherhood. Hear me loud and clear: It is the best thing I have ever done and I wouldn’t trade it for the world. I love my girls more than I can put into words, more than I could ever possibly love myself.
But motherhood is fucking hard-like, forever-and if it’s something you want, it is worth being prepared for that.
– The ‘Bad’ Girl’s Guide to Better by Casey Beros empowers readers to forgive themselves for mistakes they’ve made in the past move forward to become the best (guilt-free) version of themselves. Amazon.co.uk
– Casey Beros is a health journalist and TV presenter with more than a decade’s experience creating health and wellbeing content. She hosted Channel 10’s daily health program Everyday Health as well as ABC TV’s Tonic and writes for Australia’s leading publications on everything to do with navigating the obstacle course of life.