The moment I found out I was pregnant everything changed. … Everyone says that, right? But I am not just talking about losing a few nights out and trading cocktail parties for diaper changing.
Becoming a mother changed my career, the country I lived in, and the person I am. And all while, I had to learn how to be a parent.
It was a roller coaster that took me to some dark places.
After working in the financial services industry for 10 years I had made my way to middle management, overseeing around 60 people. It was a tough, but rewarding job.
Even after the birth of my son, I was able to keep up with the demands of work and my home life. This was not easy – and the constant pumping of breastmilk in the office was inconvenient – but it was manageable.
When my son was 12 months old I was faced with a hard choice. His dad was an Australian and was only in my home country on a work assignment. I could remain in the Philippines and go it alone as a single mom – with sporadic visits from dad – or move to a different country so that my Son would have his father in his life full time.
In my mind, there was only one option that would ensure my son received the upbringing he deserved. And that option meant that I had to sacrifice my career and start again.
Due to visa requirements, I initially would be a full-time, stay-at-home mom. So not only would I be giving up a huge part of my identity, and a management position that took me years of work to achieve, but my earning capacity would be reduced to zero.
I have always been proudly self-sufficient and the idea of leaning on someone else to get by was a hard pill to swallow. Even if it was short-term.
The only way to describe the first few months after relocating is complete isolation. Without my family nearby, or the friends I could rely on to bring a spark into my day, I spent the majority of my time with my 1-year-old.
I love him, of course, but after a while you start to wonder how your world got so small. Whether you even matter at all any more. It never occurred to me just how hard this lost sense of identity would hit me. Add in the social isolation and the risk of prolonged postpartum depression became very real.
Only through online communities of other moms was I able to find people who could relate to my story, and it was through my connection to these communities that I was able to find a part-time job online as an editor for a parenting website.
This work was miles apart from anything I had done previously, but it allowed me to find some purpose again outside of being a mom. Plus, I could work whenever I had the time, which was perfect for my situation.
Fast forward another 18 months, and I have also re-joined the financial services industry part-time. My confidence has come storming back as I have proven to myself, and to those in my new country, that I can again stand out by doing good work.
All while continuing to be the best mom I can be, and doing online work on the side — work that I am very proud of, and where I feel that I can give something back and help others who have been through a similar experience.
Now that my son is nearly 3 years old, he is not completely reliant on me, as he once was.
In fact, he has almost done a 180-degree turn and is now completely attached to his dad (until he hurts himself — then he comes running for me).
I see their relationship flourish and I know that I have done the right thing for my son, and I have no regrets. As he gains more independence over the years, so will I, along with the freedom to pursue my career more vigorously.
But I am in no hurry. These years will go fast, and I want to make the most of them.
Giselle May is chief editor of parenting website KatherineRosman.com.