Monday, January 14, 2013

On Being a Working Mom

I want to state this: There is a special place in heaven for moms. Stay-at-home moms get the front row. I am a working mom, by necessity first and choice second. Or is that the other way around?

EDITED TO ADD: One thing I did to create a mommy-is-off-to-work routine is to take a daily self portrait of myself with Harlow. It started on day when the hubs had to be at work early and we sent him a picture of us. Now, it has become routine. See some of our funny creations throughout this post. Keep an eye out for future pictures ... If I am making funny faces, it is because I am trying to imitate Harlow. :) 

Last Thursday marked one month since I had gone back to work after having the baby. I never pictured myself as a stay-at-home mom. A stay-at-home wife, sure ... that is a whole different thing. I kid, sort of. The hubs and I have our budget and lifestyle adjusted to our income, so to take away my income would mean many adjustments. And it isn't something we wanted to do. After the first few weeks of motherhood, I couldn't see myself staying home. (Again, this was not an option, but it is always something that comes up in conversation!)

During my pregnancy and maternity leave, I was often asked if I plan to return to work or what we planned to do. I always said that I am going back and part of me was looking forward to it. I enjoyed my leave. I had my parents here, we did a lot things, I had a lot of help and it was like an eight-week vacation, in some ways.

My leave was eight weeks and toward the end, the hubs asked if I wanted more time off. To be honest, I was looking forward to returning to society. I was looking forward to daily showers (mind you, there was only one day during my leave when I didn't shower!), putting on makeup and some peace and quiet. While I work in a marketing office, it is pretty quiet here. I also looked forward to being able to pee whenever I wanted, being able to eat lunch when I wanted--and take my time doing it--and being able to check my email. While I was home, none of that happened without preplanning.
I strategically came back to work before Christmas because, let's face it, no one really works too hard in December. At least I can ease my way back into the work force and I planned to take off the week of Christmas since her daycare was closed. 

I went back to work on December 10, when little peanut was just about eight weeks. During my last week of leave, I put her in her daycare for two days to get us both adjusted. I got to get a massage and do some clothes shopping and she got her little feet wet in her new schedule.

The first day we dropped her off, I did cry a little bit. But mostly because of what her teacher said. She talked about what miracles and blessing babies are and I thought about how much I loved my little one. And I teared up. Then we got outside and the hubs and I high-fived each other. 

I started back at work on a Monday, which kind of sucked. But I got up, put on some dress pants and a new shirt, did my hair, put on makeup and headed out to my carpool. I was excited and eager to get my day started. One thing that made it easy was that I didn't have to drop Harlow off at daycare. If I did and then went into work, that may have changed things. The hubs did the honor and I spent a little extra time saying good bye. In fact, she may even have been sleeping when I left.

Upon my return, I was often asked if it was hard. I am still asked this. All day, I missed her but felt no guilt for being away from her. I knew that she was in good hands and that she would have a better life if I was at work. Whenever she needs anything, she will have it. Because I recognized that I am not cut out to stay home, she will also have a mom who is sane and relaxed. I don't have a super stressful job, I work for a great company and with great people. Coming back wasn't hard. And I felt guilty about that. I felt guilty that I didn't feel guilty. Does that make sense?

When people ask me how hard it was to go back, I tell them it wasn't hard at all. And I think that it shocks most people. Don't get me wrong, I miss my girl. A LOT. I have pictures of her and flip through my phone to see more pictures of her and to watch the silly videos I took of her. But I am happy to have the break, to be able to use the bathroom and to eat. I am happy to contribute to a job I enjoy and bring home a paycheck. Let's face it: Stay-at-home moms are SEVERELY under paid!

Sure, I may miss milestones. It may not have been her first smile ever, but I will get to see her smile for the first time. It may not be her first step ever or hearing her very first word, but I will get to experience all of those milestones for a first time.

Being a working mom isn't the end of the world for our family, it was a decision and a choice that is best for our family. And something that is happening successfully because I have a supportive partner. Partner being the key word.  We each have our roles, we have designated days on who wakes up during the night (hubs, if she gets up), who gets up with her at 5 a.m. (me), who gets her dressed (hubs), who drops her off (Mon-Thurs., hubs; Fri., me), who picks her up (Mon-Tues, hubs; Wed-Fri, me). This is what is working for us, for now. I am sure it will adjust and change as times goes on. And the hubs doens't always work his normal schedule. There are weeks where I have to do all of the above tasks because he goes in to work at 2 a.m.

Working and being a breast-feeding mom aren't the easiest of challenges, but they are manageable. It takes flexibility, creativity and patience.

1 comment:

  1. I have to say, bravo! I always thought I'd be a stay at home mom, no doubt, when the time came. But, my husband always says he can't see me being home, And as much as I disagreed with him, he's right. I painted myself a pretty picture of how it *would* be, but it isn't reality. I know that by simply seeing my nieces/nephews for a few hours. You gave me inspiration and I'm not even expecting. You gave me hope and desire and encouragement, and I thank you for that. :)