Meet Alice. She’s an Aussie mum-of-one living and working in The Hague in the Netherlands. Her story has three great chapters: beginning (epic IVF and pregnancy), middle (gorgeous baby!) and she is now working towards an ‘end’ (what to do next!).
Alice shares her pregnancy struggles, the relief of letting go of her preconceived life expectations, and how she’s taken a ‘structured career pause’.
Tell us about you, where you are at and your career journey to-date?
I was a lawyer for 10 years, I’ve been a communications lead for eight, and I have been alive for 43. I have just wrapped up a role I felt really strongly about. I found it very difficult to let go even though it was my decision and it was time.
I’m now taking what I am calling, ‘a structured pause’: a moment to take a breath and carefully think about where I put my time and energy next.
So you are taking a ‘career pause’?
Yes, a very structured, focused, well-supported and grown-up pause. Every cell of my being feels like it’s shifting at the moment so it’s not a time for any sudden movements. I’m privileged to be able to do this.
Did you have a conversation with your husband about the career pause?
Absolutely and this is key. We’re a team. For this to work, it’s got to work for us all. And you know what? A month in, it’s giving us all rockets…goodness is unfolding.
Tell us about your journey to having kids? What is easy or hard?
Hard. Physically. Mentally. Emotionally. Spiritually. Harrrrrd.
Getting the confidence to have a baby was hard. Getting my body ready to make a baby was hard. Making a baby was hard (I know, even that bit, the fun bit. Even that bit was hard). I’m talking about five surgeries and IVF. And life kept barrelling along while all this was going on, of course. That was also hard.
Hard, hard, hard, people. It was HARD.
OK, that feels better.
How do you deal with mother’s guilt?
By being very careful about where I put my time and energy. I have to be able to live with what I do and what I don’t do. It takes discipline and I am still learning, but I find it really works.
The best advice I was ever given by another mum is…
If I could go back and change anything about how you managed your career through parental leave, it would be…
Everything. I was put on rest at 24 weeks with the very real threat of losing my baby. I had been in full flight aiming for a big finish before going on parental leave, and the game changed very suddenly and shockingly. I lay there fretting for four months and being hard on myself for not ‘doing anything’. I felt so powerless on so many levels. It was a dark time.
Do you ever miss your pre-mum life?
No. The things I enjoy are really compatible with being a mum. I think this is because I was 42 when I became a mum and was able to experience and achieve lots of things pre-motherhood.
Is your life what you expected it to be?
Oh my word, this one stirs my soul. No, it’s not. It’s absolutely not. I think I am shaking off the last shackles of expectations of what I expected my life to be and with that I feel the sun on my back and on my face…woah, I think I’m going to have to take a breath after this question…I think I am going to cry…bear with me…
What’s the best place to take kids on holiday?
For us, for our little family, we love to nest in a home base with a great view and take adventures from there. A swim, a walk, a drive, a ferry ride. At the start of the year we found a fishing village in Portugal that I believe we will return to many, many, maaaaany times.
How do you find ‘me time’?
By making it part of the ‘things that have to happen’ list. Erik and I are both good at making sure we each get our own time.
Do you miss Australia?
Yes. I used to tell myself I wasn’t allowed to miss Australia because I was the one who chose to move away. I’ve stopped that rot now and miss it with gay abandon.
Favourite time of the day is…morning.
Instagram sites that inspire you…@swissmiss (her blog is my internet homepage. It feeds my soul. The woman is a gift).
I’m happiest when…walking.
I’m addicted to…exploring.
Favourite wardrobe staple for work…I love having a wrap at work. Keeps me at a good temperature and gives me the ‘Queen Máxima’ feeling when I whip it around my shoulders and stride out the door.
Favourite wardrobe staple for weekend…boots. Look smart and can walk for miles.
Role model…Kate Ramsay, MD of AnD Consulting. She has her act seriously together. A brilliant small businesswoman, fit and stunning and truly empowers other women—and has done her whole life. (Yes, I even get to be related to her!)
Heels or flats? Flats. I want to meet the woman who says heels, given the choice. No really, I do. I want to know how her mind works and maybe learn something.