Mission impossible: from maternity leave into a new job

I am a customer service manager for a major airline and I love my job (check out my blog on how my job prepared me for motherhood). However, I always knew that my future has a shape of an office desk and a computer, rather than an aircraft. For most of you, this prospect appears deadly boring, but for someone who has spent the past decade jet-setting around the world, been quite literally everywhere and seen everything, such a “boring” prospect is extremely appealing. Either way, having a baby signalled the end of my flying career because as a single mum I can’t really cope with uncertain working hours, a shift pattern and being gone days at a time. The plan was simple: to produce a baby and after my maternity leave ends, return into another role in the same company.

I’ve got an exceptional work ethic, reasonably high intelligence, stellar education and very good work experience, so I wasn’t particularly worried about not being able to find a suitable role. Nonetheless, there was one factor I forgot to take into an account. A factor which might prove to be fatal. Having a baby decreases your intelligence (I am yet to find out whether temporarily or permanently, but I’m praying for the former). In the nine months I’ve been off work, some previously strong skills of mine have been on the decline – namely my critical thinking, analytical skills and my ability to express myself concisely and in a professional manner.

My professional confidence has also plunged. Back in the day, I had the courage to take on any task and tackle any challenge. For instance, if there was a wasted VIP kicking off in the first class, I would be in my element, able to effortlessly handle this “do you know who I am” noodle. Today, in a similar situation I’d probably lock myself in the toilet crying.

A lot of women struggle with their postpartum body image which also reflects on their professional life. Luckily, now I’m two thirds of a stone lighter than before baby. I feel and look great and love my body. I can’t even imagine having a body image struggle on top of everything else.

On 2nd January, I started the new year with an interview for my dream job. You probably guessed correctly that I didn’t get the job. Although I prepared as much as one can prepare with a demanding baby around, I did awful (for my standard). During the interview, my brain turned to mush. I couldn’t find the right words for what I was trying to say (sometimes I didn’t even know what I was trying to say), but if they asked me to recite twenty different nursery rhymes I would have aced it.

Today I was lucky to attend an interview no2 which was great progress. I could actually express myself and display understanding of the industry and awareness of recent trends and events. But (of course there is a but) I epically failed on the practical side of things. I mean – I didn’t imagine one could forget how to execute the simplest of Excel functions! Note to self: working with Excel is not like riding a bike.

Okay, let’s move on. Bring on interview no3. I’m sincerely hoping that my brain will return to its former self because so far I am ashamed of it. I feel like this is not even the real me. I’m intelligent enough to know I’m not as intelligent as I used to be. I am worried that this is the new me and that the only thing I can excel at is convincing a child to eat his veggies and keep smiling while preventing him from licking poop (own or guinea pig’s). I struggle with my own identity because I refuse to accept that I am not as bright and capable as I used to be. If this struggle was about post-baby weight, I’d tell you to go and lose it. So following my own advice I probably have to go and get smart again…

So here we go – a mission impossible: a mum trying to regain her lost intelligence and rediscover her intellect. Follow me because it’ll be a bumpy ride.

To be continued…

And what is your experience of postpartum brainpower? Any tips?

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