Mom to Cooper
Pediatric Registered Nurse
Children's Hospital of Michigan
What did you struggle with most about returning to work after having your kids?
I struggled with TRUST. I had the most difficult time trusting others with my son. See, Cooper had a surprise diagnosis of Down Syndrome at birth, and with the diagnosis of Down Syndrome comes health concerns and special needs. Cooper was in the NICU for the 19 days following his birth, and to be completely honest, I had just started to trust the NICU nurses at that point in time (I am a pediatric nurse, so I was a bit overly critical when it came to his care). So, after returning home with Cooper, I had less than four weeks with him at home before returning to work. This meant that I had one short month to find a babysitter that I trusted enough to care for him while the family was working. This was HARD. I wanted to know every candidate's morals, beliefs, medical background, educational background, etc. After all, they were going to be raising my son and I wanted what was best for him.
When I look back on it, I believe that I was overly critical of babysitter candidates, because deep down I wanted to be home with him. I wanted to be a stay at home mother, and if I couldn't be, well then no one was good enough ;) Silly me though, because here we are, 18 months later, happy, healthy and thriving (and no, I did not get my wish of being a stay at home mother).
I flipped my mindset and put my faith in God, and things worked out just fine. Energy flows where your focus goes! Focus on the positive!
What do you find difficult about being a working parent?
The most difficult aspect of being a working mother was the idea of "balance," or what I considered the picture-perfect idea of "balance" of it to be. For the first few weeks after returning to work, I was hell-bent on maintaining the perfect balance of being a wife, mother, nurse, daughter, sister, friend, etc. I put ALL of my energy into trying to be the best at each of those, at all times.
However, I soon realized that perfect balance is not attainable. I could not physically or emotionally be the best, most perfect wife, mother, nurse, daughter and sister throughout every second of the day. Instead, I adjusted my focus towards being the best mother I could be when I was with Cooper, giving my husband the best wife while we had our alone time in the morning and evenings, being the best nurse while I was at the hospital, and so on. And this worked for me.
I soon learned that I was a better mother when I wasn't trying to the best at everything else while around Cooper, I was a better wife when I was present in the moment and my head wasn't in a trillion other places, etc. My different roles flourished as I watered them individually.
What do you enjoy about being a working parent?
Being a working parent has reminded me that, not only was I put on this earth to be a mother and wife, but I also was put on this earth to care for the sick and to care for those in need. I think that it's very easy to get "lost" in motherhood, forgetting everything that brought you happiness and meaning before children. But it's important to maintain your different purposes.
After being back at work for some time, have your views about career and family changed?
Changed? Absolutely. A 13 hour night shift at the hospital is a WALK-IN-THE-PARK compared to motherhood. Motherhood is the most challenging, exhausting, emotionally draining job out there, but it's also the most beautifully rewarding!
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?
Everything is going to be OK. Keep your faith, maintain a positive attitude and remember that everything will turn out exactly how it should be.