I grew up in Johannesburg, South Africa during a time when it was often too dangerous to go to the local park, so family, siblings and our backyard became my entire world. I was never the maternal type. My husband was very keen for a big family but I was enjoying focusing on my career as a news reporter, journalist and author to make time for much else. But as the years went by, priorities shifted!
I was heavily pregnant when my seventh book came out, The Game Changers, featuring an exclusive interview with Meghan Markle. We had worked so long on the book that it was like giving birth when it was finally printed. The subject matter also meant that the world wanted a piece of myself and my co-author Steph Adams. So despite being tired, swollen and very, very hungry, I went out and did media interviews, book signings and shipped off books (often carrying multiple heavy boxes to and from the post office much to the shock of onlookers) to send to people eager to get their hands on a copy.
When Harper was born, I had also been working as a court reporter for Channel Seven covering courts and crime; often the worst in humanity. It was a shock at first to take a break from the hustle and bustle. I had never taken off much time from work since I started in the media industry when I was 18 years old and had just kept going, going, going, working all over the world, dedicating everything I had to my work and advancing my career. Working early mornings, late nights, every weekend for as long as I can remember.
Harper came into the world fashionably early. She was the most beautiful baby I had ever seen, although I had never actually seen or held a newborn before!
Of the early days I remember the focus was just on keeping Harper alive. I read every book, blog and article that I could get my hands on with the hopes of finding out every bit of information about motherhood that I possibly could, and then quickly realising that no matter how much material you read, it’s really all about trial and error in the end, and making your own mistakes.
I found the first three months the most difficult mentally, emotionally and physically as well as extremely messy! With poo explosions, spit ups, sleepless nights and constant worry, but once the first three months were over, I could finally relax a little bit and start to really enjoy my time with Harper.
I went back to work after four months, trying to juggle it all with office time scheduled in for early mornings and late nights so I could have as much time with Harper as possible. Thankfully my job as a news reporter isn’t about being in the office from nine to five (more like starting work at 3.30 am) and my husband was able to pick up a lot of the slack so I could get back to work. And thankfully I don’t need much sleep!
The juggle is real. Your life is no longer just about you. I can’t just pick up and head off to the latest breaking news around the world and not know when I’ll be home. Time is now of the essence and every minute has to be used wisely. When I’m with Harper, I try and give her my undivided attention and leave work to one side for a moment, even if there is a work issue that urgently needs my attention.
I’m grateful for the shift in focus because I think you grow as a person, a mum, a colleague and definitely as a journalist when you’re so heavily contributing to the life of someone else rather than constantly thinking of me, me, me. Yes, my hair is nowadays no longer perfectly coiffed and clean, nail polish is always chipped, there’s barely any time for a shower, gym has gone completely out the window and I can’t remember the last time I had a leg wax.
But it’s these early days for me that I know will be the most precious when I look back on it all. I’ve certainly managed to work full-time, write a new book and be a very present mum too, but not without some serious help from family and friends, and lots of very, very strong coffee!
What has surprised me the most about the juggle is that no matter who the mum, how successful they are or how many kids they have, we’re all in the same boat; we’re all juggling. We’re all struggling with the juggling, but we’re all making it work as best we can.
I have a newfound respect and admiration for all mums, but especially single mothers and mothers doing it tough. They are the true heroes and reading their stories has given me so much joy, and we hope—so much inspiration to other women.
This is an edited extract from The Juggle: Inspirational Stories from Mums Juggling It All by Steph Adams and Samantha Brett (Viking, $39.99), available now.
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