Mom to Emma
Length of maternity leave: 3-months
What did you struggle with most about returning to work after having your kids?
This is probably one of the hardest things to summarize. My experience returning to work was the most challenging, wonderful, anxiety-inducing and rollercoaster-y times of my life. I’m so fortunate to have a supportive employer and boss. My first day back to work she took me out to lunch, and told me my priorities are different now, that I need to put myself first, then my family, then my job. That hit me hard and still means the world to me. Before returning to work I had this notion that I would have to somehow prove myself all over again, as a new person in a new job. I felt that I would be looked at differently, as a weaker, less organized version of me. Thankfully, this was not the case, and I was welcomed and supported (and still am) as the same me, an even better me. Establishing a new routine has been laughable, because it changes daily. Having a Type A personality makes that extra tough, but I am getting better at going with the flow.
What do you find difficult about being a working parent?
I used to think finding balance was the hardest part about being a working parent – until I realized that there will never be balance. Something is always going to take up more of my time and energy, and that’s okay. When my baby needs me, I am 100% wholeheartedly there for her, because I chose a job and employer that allows me to be. When my job needs me, I am the best that I can be, while managing the guilt and worry that comes with being away from my girl. Accepting a new reality of what life is has been a whirlwind – my house may never be clean again, my inbox never as neat as it once was. But I would never change this life, where I get to be one little girl’s entire world, while still having a world of my own.
What do you enjoy about being a working parent?
I truly do enjoy watching my baby thrive in a social setting. In some ways, we are both “working” while we are away from each other all day. When I go to pick her up, even though her eyes are red from exhaustion, and mine can barely stay open, she crawls across the floor in lightning speed to greet me. That is the best moment of my day.
After being back at work for some time, have your views about career and family changed?
Before I had Emma, I thought that my career aspirations would change, and that I would be content to stay in my role forever, so that I can focus outside of work on being a mom. I think the opposite happened and having her has inspired me to want to continue to grow in my career and make her proud. There is no motivation quite like a tiny version of yourself that watches your every move. Now that I am settling in to being back at work, I have my sights set on moving on up and being a role model for her.
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 think that I would tell myself to ask for help. I struggled and still struggle with post-partum anxiety (which I didn’t know was a thing before having a baby). But anxiety or no anxiety, it takes a village, a grandma, a workforce, and a team of medical professionals to raise a child. We weren’t meant to do it alone, and I’m not sure why so many of us women put all the pressure on ourselves. We must do it all, and make it look effortless. We must be on top of everything all the time and meal plan for our families and be successful in our careers and have meaningful interactions with our children and don’t forget to be present in the moment! These standards are insane. All I must really do is be the best, healthiest version of myself, and survive one day at a time. Sometimes that means sitting in my car for an extra 5 minutes and closing my eyes before I go pick up Emma from daycare or wearing the same pants for 4 out of 5 workdays because I didn’t have time to do laundry and nothing else fits. In the grand scheme of things, she’s happy, I’m happy and we’ll both be okay.
What did you choose for childcare, and how has it been for your family?
We chose a daycare super close to my office (and our house), since my husband travels for work. I love being the one who drops her off and picks her up every day. I love seeing her make new friends and bond with other adults. It is so comforting to know that she is loved and cared for every day. I love getting updates throughout the day, and occasional pictures of whatever fun activity she is doing at that moment. I live for those updates. I think there are cons in any childcare situation. For me the pros outweigh any cons. Being away from her feels impossible on some days, but knowing she is close by helps immensely.
Anything else you'd like to share?
I love reading these blog posts. It is so reassuring to know that you're not the only one hanging on by a thread at times. A lot of people are afraid to speak up about anxiety, or struggles with parenting in general, when in reality we are all just winging it. I love that these stories keep it real!