Mom to Josie and Ari
Length of maternity leave: 9-weeks
Childcare: In-home daycare and Partner
What did you struggle with most about returning to work after having your kids?
I struggled the most with guilt of leaving my babies. This was my second child this year, so the second time leaving a child at daycare. Staying home with my first, I felt only a little guilt but frankly after a while at home with her I longed to get to work, to get in a better routine, to get a break from the 24/7 demand of motherhood and to allow her some social time. I honestly (and I feel guilty admitting) felt a little bored. I also felt incompetent as many mothers do and that I was not doing something right, so thought childcare was a great way to grow for both of us. However, when my second baby was born, I could sense something had changed in me. I felt more seasoned, and had plenty to do with two babes under two. I absolutely love watching the two of them interact. Josie will tickle Ari's toes and Ari just smiles up at her and coos. Josie often request that they take a bath together: Ari in her bath seat with Josie next to her in the tub. I have found a huge struggle has become time. It has become more fleeting + I still struggle to find time to take care of the house, enjoy time with my family, love both babies, oh, and shower! I am far more willing to give time at work up with more than one child. However, that idea also makes me feel as if I am failing: to give up my career; and frankly scary to let go of a career I have strived so hard for, for so long.
What do you find difficult about being a working parent?
I find it most difficult to find the time. I put my children first and the responsibilities of my work second. Those two things often put housework aside or anything of the like. The issue with that is my messy house makes me a little anxious so I end up setting out some time to regain the chaos I call my home.
What do you enjoy about being a working parent?
Some days I feel like a superwoman. Why? I pumped 12 ounces at work to feed my baby + 6 in the middle of the night, I got the older one to go potty before leaving, dropped both off to daycare with 5 minutes to spare to grab a coffee, made it to work on time, remembered everything (I do at my job) I had not done for the 9 weeks I was away on maternity leave, made sure my husband was prepared well for bedtime routines (I work evening shifts), and the babies slept through the night. Other days not so much. However, I enjoy having my space at work, performing a job with a skill set I studied and meanwhile earning income to provide to my family alongside my husband. I enjoy being able to get outside of the home also and converse with other moms: hey do you have advice for this? or, you won't believe what my toddler did now...You get a sense of community in the workplace that I don't always find at home without an outing to the library or likewise.
After being back at work for some time, have your views about career and family changed?
With my first child, I felt little change other than needing to really organize my life better, and the constant reminder that my baby needs me, she needs my milk, she needs my snuggles, she needs the touch of her mom that anyone else caring for her could not always give. My career was still a very high priority. I was divided between wanting to spend more time with my daughter and wanting to excel at work as a retreat from home. With my second born I saw a shift in my views. I restructured my thinking, perhaps with the demands of two babes under two exhausting my attention. My job is still a retreat but is not as high priority as I once had it. My first vocation is motherhood and to be a wife, which comes first. My career is to support my vocation, mentally and financially and is sort of a respite. But I no longer let it define who I am.
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?
Enjoy every minute with your babies. The house can wait. Maternity leave goes by so fast. Remember that you are enough and your children will not resent you for working and still love you just as much.
What did you choose for childcare, and how has it been for your family?
My husband and I work opposite shifts (he works from 8-430 + I work 1230-830). The overlapped time the girls are at an in-home daycare.
I love my daycare provider. She is so sweet with the girls, the five hours she has them. I appreciate her ability to get them down for naps (and wish I had her on the weekend, ha!) I think the girls learn so much for the other kids there and the grow in all aspect, especially socially. During the evenings, I love that one on one time the girls have with their dad as I am working. However, I think it can be a stressful time of the day being that it is bed time and I just want to run home and kiss them! He does a great job, but no one can replace a mom. I love my babies so much, they are such a blessing!
The very first day I went back to work I took a photo of the two girls in front of the apartment building before daycare drop off down the road. Then dropped the girls off together. The next day I carrier Ari in her car seat with Josie trailing behind as we packed up the car. I hear "cheese!" from behind me. Toddlers tend to be creatures of routine and she was waiting for her picture to be taken as we had done the day before. She even insisted on her sister's car seat to be placed next to her. I now have this adorable collection of daily photos before drop off. I have really appreciated the support of my husband when I have felt self doubt. I have wondered if my self-worth and if I was doing an adequate job as a mother while working. "The girls love you! Josie talks about you on the way home from daycare, and Ari is so settled in your arms when you arrive back home from work." I can hear him tell Ari about the "mama milk' (as we call it) as I take off my shoes coming in the front door. Being that many women + moms work outside the home, the old saying "behind every great man there is a great woman" can be often reversed as I feel like my husband is my rock at times and just a huge support.