As it says in the Good Book of Beyonce, “We’re smart enough to make these millions, strong enough to bear the children, then get back to business.” Who am I to argue with Queen Bey?
I talk a good game, I really do. I’m not going to lie, being a mom in the ad biz is hard as hell. Late nights, work trips, emailing during a talent show (I see you). Even from a position of privilege — I can afford full-time day care, I have a partner who is supportive and pushes me toward new challenges, and family in-town who are willing to pitch in — it’s hard.
But I have a confession. I love it and right now, for me, it’s totally worth it. Don’t get me wrong, the hard times are hard AF. I’ve cried in my fair share of bathrooms and hotel rooms.
After I had my son, I was lucky enough to have a 14-week maternity leave. I relished the time away from work and the opportunity to snuggle my baby as much as humanly possible (as well as binge a shit load of Netflix). But after a while, I missed my friends. I missed feeling respected and needed for my brain — not the milk in my boobs.
Coming back I thought I’d fall right back into place with my old pre-baby life.
Late nights at the office — sure, no problem.
Emailing and texting at all hours — yep, I got this.
Work travel — eh, yeah sure.
3 weeks of production travel — oh shit, wait.
Things didn’t fall back in to the same place, but they did fall in place. I prioritize my time differently at the office, set boundaries for my time after business hours, ask for help and support from my managers and colleagues when I need it, and embrace the fact that at any given moment I don’t completely have my shit together.
When it came to the big production trips, it was a decision my husband, Gordon, and I made together. It was a critical time for me professionally and I wanted to find a way to make it work. That meant he carried the brunt of the household and child-rearing responsibilities in those early years when I was on the road. It was scary and hard. It didn’t help that I got lots of sideways looks from people outside the industry while they remarked about how they could never do “something like that.
After some direct conversations with my manager, I knew diving head first into these assignments was how I would make it to the next level professionally. For me, that meant becoming an executive producer. I needed to run a big production (or five) in order to step into that new role. Knowing there was an end-goal, a light at the end of the tunnel, helped make that sacrifice worth it.
Don’t get me wrong, that does not mean it was easy. It was hard. It’s been a while since I’ve been on the road for a multi-week production, so it’s a little sunnier in the rearview mirror. At the time it was one of the most difficult decisions I could make. It was not just a decision for me and my career growth, but also for my son, Bennett. I needed to make all that sacrifice worth it. I needed to show him the value of hard work and that a true partnership means you support each other anyway you can.
I fully recognize this isn’t everyone’s journey, but it’s my journey and I’ll never apologize for it.
Go call your mom and smooch your babies. Happy Mother’s Day!
//written by Erin Simle
//image by Chanikarn Thongsupa