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Where the Hell Did My 5-Year Plan Go?!

baby asleep on mums shoulder
Photograph by Getty Images

“Where do you see yourself in five years? Will you be far along in your career?”

My therapist glared at me with one of those loving, but also judging you kind of glares. This woman has heard me discuss things I haven’t even told my close friends. I knew she wasn’t going to judge me and yet, I was nervous to reveal the truth. I wasn’t ready to admit it. I didn’t want the words to pop up in my throat. I’ve known the answer for quite some time and I’ve tried to drown those thoughts in a pool of sleep deprivation. But I couldn't deny it anymore.

“I don’t know,” I tell her.

And it’s true. I have no idea where I see myself in five years career-wise. Had you asked me this 10 years ago, I could have given you my journal of ideas. My type-A personality went so far in my post-collegiate days. I didn’t go to the grocery store without a plan and now, at 32-years old, I don’t know what the heck is happening with me and my career.

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I know I’m not alone in this. I know many moms have a hard time finding their footing in the career world after they have kids. I’ve already gotten over the fact that I’m not meant to be just a mom. It’s a beautiful life, it’s an unforgiving life and it’s not the life I want. I don’t feel sorry about it.

Mama wants a career, kids. Sorry not sorry.

It’s not about what other moms want. The way I see it, as parents, it's our right to decide what’s best for our families. If a mom or dad decides that staying at home with baby is the best move for their family, rock on. Alternatively, if said parent doesn’t want to stop working beyond maternity and paternity leave, I’m OK with that, too.

I’ve spent the majority of my parenting years mourning the loss of my drive and my career moves, blaming them on my children. Could it be I wasn’t sure before they were born?

But what happens if you feel lost in your career? What happens if the fervor that made you this intense go-getter doesn’t exist anymore? What happens if mom brain has zapped some of your brain cells so much that you find yourself saying unintelligible mutterings on a conference call?

So now what?

Can I tell my career “It’s not you, it’s me"?

Do I have time to get back in the groove? Start a new program? Attend graduate school? Move ahead in my current career path? Pick another one? Start a business?

I glare back at my therapist and give her another defeated “I just don’t know.”

A pregnant pause fills the room, goosebumps pop up on my arms and I feel a little empty inside.

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I had more focus before kids. Didn’t I?

At least I had plans of where I wanted to go and what I wanted to do. Didn’t I?

That’s when it hit me. I’ve spent the majority of my parenting years mourning the loss of my drive and my career moves, blaming them on my children. Could it be I wasn’t sure before they were born?

It’s funny how many of us think of life before kids as a bit more fun than it actually was, when, in fact, we may simply be mourning the loss of something we never had to start out with.

The good news?

It’s not too late. Whatever it is I want, I can still go get it. I just have to figure out what "it" is first.

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