Mom to Levi
Attorney, New York City Council
Maternity Leave: 5 months
Childcare: Nanny & Part-Time School
What did you struggle with most about returning to work after Levi?
I spent the first few months of Levi's life getting to know him and getting to know myself as a mother. Learning how to meet his needs, and my own, and exploring life together, was my purpose and greatest responsibility everyday. As my maternity leave neared its end, I felt anxious about not being there for him. Would this new routine be good for him? And for me? And I also felt anxious generally.
I had just experienced the most life changing event, and now I had to transition again so soon.
I was mad at my job for taking me away from him, and I wondered whether I would be able to commit myself to work when every ounce inside of me knows he is my number one priority now. I still remember the dread that built up as the days counted down.
What do you find difficult about being a working parent?
My job is very busy and demanding, and Levi is very busy and demanding. Whether I'm at the office or at home, I need to be fully present -- it's exhausting. There are also times where I feel I should stay at work a little later, or I feel I should stay with Levi a little longer. Right now, I set my schedule and stick to it, but I'm never not wondering if the schedule should be adjusted.
What do you enjoy about being a working parent?
The truth is, even though I dreaded the end of my maternity leave, I was anxious on and off throughout. I was adjusting to someone's needs coming before my own, and I also had energy to burn. Now that I'm working, I never feel like I'm not participating in the world, or lacking adult interaction, like I sometimes did while on leave. I love my job, and I love being a mom. My days are full and full of joy.
After being back at work for some time, have your views about career and family changed?
I always suspected I would get fulfillment from working and having a family at the same time, but when I was transitioning back from maternity leave it felt like uncharted territory and I doubted everything I thought I knew. Now that we are settled into a routine, I feel like I am my best self at home because I also get fulfillment from work, and I feel like Levi is having a great experience bonding with other people and exploring the world.
Knowing what you know now, what’s one thing you wish you could go back in time and tell yourself as you were preparing to return to work or getting ramped up in your role?
I like to be in control, and having a baby was a big adjustment for me in that way. There is so much I can't control anymore. But I can still control a lot of things, including my time and meeting my needs. If I could go back to the nervous person preparing to go back to work, I would remind her that I will do what I need to do to make this work. But honestly, I might have been saying that to myself at the time.
I was so emotional, any reassuring words were futile, I just had to power through.
Anything else you'd like to share?
For me, the key to success in parenthood - and in life - is my husband. We are a team. We share equal responsibility for the joys and burdens that raising a child entails. A big part of that teamwork is logistics - we support each other's schedules, and we each change diapers, do meals, do bedtime, etc. Another crucial part of the teamwork is emotional support. If I'm wondering whether a particular decision is right for Levi or for our family, he is wondering alongside me. Sometimes it feels like two people are not enough.
But at all times, I know that I'm not alone and that we can handle anything.