How my career in advertising helped and hindered my first year of motherhood

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I truly believed I was very "prepared." Being prepared is what I do for a living. Boy, was I in for a rude awakening, writes a VP, account director at Motive.

Throughout my 15-year career in advertising, I’ve always embraced the attitude that if I put my mind to it, with a little muscle, I can do anything. Last year, that go-to approach was put to the test when I received not one, but two new titles. Congrats, you’ve been promoted to Vice President! Congrats you’re going to be a mom!  

Sure, the timing was tough. And yes, I knew managing that intangible "balance" everyone talks about would be a challenge. But I know myself, and I thought, I got this.

When it came to motherhood, I truly believed I was very "prepared." Being prepared is what I do for a living. All of my checklists had been checked. I had plan B and C in order, and I was on a mission to conquer motherhood with the same force I had applied to any big client project that hit my desk over the years. I was no stranger to sleepless nights prepping for a big pitch, keeping clients happy, managing teams. Could being a mom be much different? Boy, was I in for a rude awakening.

We were truly lucky to have one of the easiest babies ever—so happy, content, and adorable—so I should have been the happiest woman on the planet, but all I could think about was, what do I do now? How do I spend my time? Am I losing my mojo? The endless looping conversations, tears, and pity parties my poor husband had to endure. I found out first-hand that those baby blues are indeed very real.

Enter my first real challenge of being a new mom—learning how to slow down. This mindset went against everything I’d ever done in my career. In advertising, especially account services; we are trained to overthink everything. "Chasing Greatness" and "Never F*cking Settle" are the mottos at our agency for crying out loud. To step away from that pace and intensity was a full-time job in itself.

Eventually, I started to embrace the pace, but of course, just in time for my official re-entry back into the workforce. That’s when the self-doubt started creeping in again. Will I live up to my new role as VP? Will I still be a good mom? Can I still be a great wife? How will I juggle it all? Am I good enough? You name it, I thought it.

So much of the conversation around working mothers centers on the need for maternal leave, and that’s important. But equally as important is the discussion of what happens when we go back. Can we re-adjust again? 

The answer for every new mom out there is yes. We need to keep telling ourselves "yes, I can" no matter what. This is no different than a big pitch at work. You can’t go into the pitch telling yourself you are going to lose, because then you lose. You tell yourself you’re going to win, and then you go and win big.

We need to embrace the fact that we aren’t the same person—we’re better. We have a better perspective, better patience, better strength, and a better spirit. All of which will prove invaluable to our team and clients. Of course, you won’t get it right away. It took me six months back at work to find my groove. All of your ruminating won’t create any real solutions or answers for you—you have to simply dive in and start doing. Starting this new dual role of mother and employee is no different than when we all started out in the industry: it’s 99 percent perspiration and 1 percent inspiration. 

The whole "juggling it all" piece is still a work-in-progress for me, as it is for many, but the best piece of advice I’ve received is: Be Present. When you are at home, be at home. When you are at work, be at work. Be present with yourself, your employees, your partner, and your child. Do it, and everyone, including you, will be thankful. 

When our sweet Miss Rivington came into this world last Mother’s Day, we had no idea what would be in store for us. And every day since has proven no different. No title can change the basic fact that we are in this industry for a reason—living for the thrill of the unknown, the challenge that lies ahead, and the ability to conquer whatever comes our way. Motherhood is no different.

Taylor Woodard is a VP account director at Motive.