Mothers are basically superheroes.
Something shifts in a woman's DNA after becoming a mom—a chemical alteration that allows them to know exactly what to do in every situation and also to always have snacks in their handbag.
The vast majority also return to work within only a few months, or sometimes weeks, of creating and birthing a human life, which is nothing short of incredible.
But it's not always a smooth transition back into the workforce— which is understandable and somewhat expected given the major life change that recently occurred.
Spring.St spoke with four women who have returned to work after having children about how their careers have changed since entering motherhood.
Kate, returned to work after three months
"When I returned to work after having a baby I had mixed emotions. A part of me wanted to 'prove' to my boss and colleagues that the baby wasn't a distraction and I was ready to give my job 150 percent. The other part of me wanted to scale back a bit so I can be home with my new baby.
Early in my professional career, I would often discuss with co-workers how unfair it was that mothers were able to have a steady work from home schedule, flexible work hours and more personal time off because they had children. Of course, once I had a child of my own I changed my tune drastically.
Before my daughter was born my focus was on my career. But now, my focus is on my baby. The best part of my day is no longer getting work recognition for a job well done. It's seeing my daughter's huge smile when she runs to greet me every evening.
I wouldn't say I am slacking at work, but I no longer go above and beyond. I received a great performance review from my boss but I personally know my focus is on my daughter. In conversations with my boss, he never indicates there is anything wrong with my performance so a part of me wonders, Am I being too hard on myself?"
Lindsay, returned to work after six months
"After having my daughter, I no longer bring work home. I can't. My daughter is two; she needs constant supervision. I recently took 25 high school female students to a workshop on Friday for Women in Business and STEM. The panelists were wonderful and one of the high school students asked: 'How do you balance it all, your family and careers?'
I was shocked at how forward thinking this student was, but I was even more shocked at the responses of the panelists. They said: 'You don't balance it.'
This made me feel so much better. There is a world of women out there just like me. I do what I can when I can. We can't do everything for everyone all of the time, no matter how hard we try. Sometimes we have to say 'no' and that doesn't make us bad people."
Liz, returned to work after 13 years
"My wardrobe was pretty atrocious during my years of staying at home with the kids/freelancing. There were crocs involved.
When I went back to work full-time, I was terrified. I had no idea what to wear. The last time I worked in an office, I was much younger and thinner and I wore cute things like skirts and tights.
But I think I've gotten better as an employee. I worked hard before but now I get things done more efficiently, so I can get out on time. I also feel more confident and more like a real adult. I would say that people treat me pretty much the same, although I miss being part of the 'fun' crowd."
Michelle, returned to work after four months
"I find that I approach work situations with more compassion now. I also opt not to travel as much. Life is too short and all I want to do is drink in what short childhood the babies have. I constantly think, How will my kids see this? How will I look to them if I do/don't take this risk, this soul-sucking promotion, that next gig?"
My partner is a stay-at-home dad and I desperately wish the roles were reversed. But that's my selfish love speaking. He's amazing with them and has found a real sense of purpose, and I feel accomplished knowing I can provide food and shelter and clothing even though I'm not physically there with them. Because of that, I spend every other second I can with them."
As you may have noticed, the common thread here is a shift in priorities: Women simply can't operate at work the same way they did before having children.
It's not realistic now that there are much more pressing concerns in life.
Women are often unfairly pressured to "do it all." But once children are a priority, some things, even things that were considered crucial before motherhood, just have to fall to the wayside.
And that's perfectly OK.
This story is part of Spring.St's Back to Work series. You can find more here.