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“Motherhood Makes Me a Better Leader, Manager and Person”

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Recipe head of creative Rebecca Montgomery-Cederhielm on societal expectations and the balance between motherhood and career

“Motherhood Makes Me a Better Leader, Manager and Person”

Acceptance. That’s how I believe you can find the balance between work and motherhood. Acceptance that you can’t be in two places at once. When I’m at work, I’m Becks. When I’m with my kids, I’m Mummy. You can wear many hats, but only wear one at once.
 
I was only around six weeks pregnant when I was offered a promotion to head of creative at Recipe. I remember being apprehensive about revealing that I was pregnant when as well as my hormones being all over the place, my imposter syndrome kicked in. I couldn’t see this working within the timescale before maternity leave. However, I was reassured by Jim, one of our founders, that this was to be a double celebration - everyone was over the moon for me and my family! Together we’d make this work.

At Recipe I have always felt valued and listened to. I’ve had both my children during my time here, and my career progression has never been compromised. t is also important to note that when someone goes on maternity leave, it creates opportunities for others to step up. This is really important for an ever-evolving business like ours. 

In my new role, I was to run a new department within the company. We merged the creative production arm with the creative agency arm to create one multifaceted creative department like no other. I only had eight months to make it work before going on mat leave, and I put a lot of pressure on myself to succeed. This was hugely impacted by my pregnancy, but I do believe that prior to going on mat leave, I had initial success with this venture, as by being a mother already, I was able to listen more effectively, have more patience, empathy and understanding for each of the team’s individual needs. 

I found having my second child incredibly challenging. I’ve had long covid for two years now, starting with chronic fatigue where I was bedridden for four months. I am almost better now, apart from having a permanent headache ranging from the extreme to bearable. Due to this and the impact that the fluctuation of pregnancy hormones had on my mental health, I can honestly say that when I fell pregnant with Phoenix, I thought it was a mistake, due to not being as strong mentally or physically as when I had my daughter, Wanda. I was scared I’d have a hard birth and also post natal depression. I didn’t connect with Phoenix in the womb until I was around eight months pregnant. I’d been going at a million miles an hour in my new role, knowing time was running out, whilst coping with the headaches and pregnancy. But luckily, as soon as I saw Phoenix, I immediately fell in love. 

I think there is an expectation from society that with your second baby that you’ve done it before, so there is less empathy or support. Luckily I opened up to my midwife, who set me up with an incredible postnatal mental health team. I’m sharing my struggles here, as it's important we talk about pregnancy and mental health. It’s okay to not be glowing and happy when pregnant. It’s okay to say out loud that you are struggling, need support or even time out from work. Physically it’s been a hard journey, I’m still recovering from the birth, especially due to my long covid, and the strain both have put on my body.

It’s also incredibly important to me to carve out solo time with fitness, going out with friends or weekends away, it makes me a better parent. Parenting isn’t easy as kids can really push us to the limits. But by talking about how hard it is, it makes it more bearable. And I do have a continual open dialogue with my husband. I know it will be hard when I go back to work as we’ll need to map out roles and responsibilities in the household, and with parenting, I’ll also attempt to share my mental load. 

It has become the norm for men and women to now work fulltime and share parenting. However, there needs to be an incremental societal shift in our perception of what defines the roles as a mother or a father. For example, let’s start congratulating mums when they are looking after their kids on their own for the day, instead of just the dads. 
Currently, I’m loving being on mat leave, but I’m also super excited to come back to work. Work for me gives me my identity, it’s a place where I feel valued, where I can have the space to grow, be myself and have a cup of coffee in peace.

If you believe in yourself and have a vision for your future, follow it. Motherhood should not derail your dreams. Being a mother has given me greater emotional intelligence. I’m a better leader, manager and person. I’ll always promote the fact that I’m a mother, and I’ll encourage and help other women who want both a career and motherhood too. 

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Recipe, Fri, 17 Mar 2023 11:57:18 GMT