In this week’s episode with Amy Kuretsky, I share how my work literally saved my life postpartum. I thought I would share more details of that story here today.

When I was pregnant with my now toddler, I imagined that I would love being a mom so much that I would quit my job and embrace domestic bliss. I would adopt a minimalist but beautiful lifestyle. My baby would be my primary focus and that would be totally fulfilling. I had this Instagram-worthy image of my life being filled with succulents, freshly baked goods, stylish but simple clothes, a top knot, and a happy baby in a white onesie rocking an amber necklace.

My husband went back to work at six weeks postpartum and after one day of being alone with my baby, I loaded him up in the car and went on a tour of the nearest daycare center that came with high recommendations.

The Instagram-life fantasy was not playing out in my reality and the truth is: I missed feeling like I knew what I was doing.

My baby started daycare at 8 weeks old—I was still in a sleep-deprived haze but was so grateful to have a little time to workout and dip my toe back into writing, designing, and meeting with my team and clients. At 4 months postpartum it sunk in that even with a solid support system, my life would never be what it once was. At 4 months I was overwhelmed by my love for my baby (I was physically addicted to him) but at 4 months I also realized that I didn’t particularly love being a mom—or rather, my vision for the kind of mom I wanted to be wasn’t really coming to fruition. Those conflicting concepts (love my baby / don’t love being a mom) were enough to send me into a tailspin of confusion, depression, and shame. Plus! I was still consuming the Instagram-fantasy other moms actually seemed to be living and I couldn’t understand why it was so hard for me and so easy for everyone else. Hell, it still feels like it’s somehow harder for me than it is for everyone else and probably because nobody is talking about this stuff out loud. (So here I am.)

So I threw myself into work. My work was the thing that was keeping my soul fed when I felt like I was dying inside everywhere else. If that sounds dramatic, it is. But I also learned that postpartum hormones are no joke and they might make you feel a little … no a lot … extreme. It’s like being 15 years old all over again. But it wasn’t just hormones—the truth is that my job was keeping me going.

The truth is that my job was keeping me going

I kept growing my business at Braid Creative and I launched Being Boss with Emily. And JUST recently, maybe within the last few months (and my baby is now 2.5 years old), I have embraced that while family is important, my work is important too. It should go without saying that I love my child more than anything in the whole world. My kid is a given—I would crawl across burning coals to keep him safe and feeling loved—but I’m releasing any guilt that comes with loving my role as creative director, writer, podcaster, and boss more than I love my role as a parent. There was an article recently from a man on his deathbed saying he regretted working so much, but I can say without a doubt that I will never regret the work I’m doing—even with the sacrifices I make within my family to do the work.

So with that: Thank you Braid Creative. Thank you Being Boss. And thank you to all of our followers, fans, and listeners for unknowingly supporting me during a really fucking hard time. And thank you to my whole family—especially my husband, my kid, and my sister, for supporting the work I do and the hours I put into it.

And I want to be sure to tell you that there is no happy ending to this post. I’m still “in it” – I still struggle with being a mom to a very strong-willed toddler. I still feel like I have no idea what I’m doing. But I’m also becoming more okay with that.

Kathleen is the co-host of Being Boss Podcast, helping creative entrepreneurs learn how to run their own creative business while being their most authentic selves. She also co-owns Braid Creative, a business visioning & branding agency for people- and purpose-driven businesses.