Carmen

Mom to Christopher

Account Director

Length of Maternity Leave: 4-months

Childcare: Daycare and Family


What did you struggle with most about returning to work after having your kids?


My biggest struggle was twofold–on one end, how I was leaving this tiny defenseless baby with practically complete strangers and on the other, getting over the guilt that I actually enjoyed what I do and missed it while I was gone. I missed adults, I missed the "old me," I missed feeling useful (ironic, because nothing keeps you busier than keeping a tiny human alive). Most of all, coming back to work was the beginning of a new me, a me who's mind was always...ALWAYS..somewhere else. Because a part of me was somewhere else.


What do you find difficult about being a working parent?


Again, a dual answer. Side A: I hate when people say things like "I don't know how you do it" because first of all what's the alternative. And second, it implies a sort of pity or weakness wrapped in a thin compliment. I do it with heaps of support. I do it because I have to and choose to. I do it because I am a better person, wife and mother for it. I do it, because frankly, money is helpful. I definitely DON'T do it to be a superhero or prove something. Side B: When something does happen where I need to drop everything to be the superhero for my baby, my mind is blown at how unsupportive people can be. Fascinating culprits: Other working parents. My fatal flaw is that I am transparent to a fault, because I would never, ever want my child to think I am ashamed of why I have to be late because of their parent teacher conference or that I in any way resent that they are sick. So I always think it's interesting when I hear the sigh of "it's probably her kid again." Like, yeah, it is. See you back online in an hour.



What do you enjoy about being a working parent?


I love the challenge frankly. I love knowing that Christopher and his future siblings will see the effort I am putting in to give them a lifestyle I hope they enjoy. I love that one day I can go to a career day and hopefully make them really proud. I love making my husband proud. I love my coworkers loving to see pictures of Christopher and how my direct reports support me and lift me up professionally and in being a mom. I think what I love the most is that it's challenged me as a person and as a woman to be the best version of myself, which is always––ALWAYS––wife and mom first, boss second.


After being back at work for some time, have your views about career and family changed?


One of the biggest changes I've seen in myself is that I used to be a huge proponent of having it all. And still am. But now, I feel like I am okay with having it all in due time and not at the same time. I dreamt of working somewhere with a bold-faced name. Somewhere everyone knew. And of being a boss there. And rubbing elbows with CMOs. Now, I want to be up to my elbows in snuggles by 8pm. And am happy to hop online after bedtime no matter how tired I am to compensate for it. Something is always going to give. And while the OCD overachiever in my struggles with that, I learned very quickly that life and motherhood don't care about my intention to have a perfect instagram-worthy house as well as a 9-7. Thankfully I have an amazing daycare and parents and in laws and siblings and cleaning lady and Drybar and Amazon and Etsy. And because I am truly this lucky, a husband who gets that cereal and takeout are perfectly acceptable dinners. I can have it all, but I can't be it all. And that's okay.


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 wish someone had told me how to navigate the days when literally everything at home goes wrong. Some days at work suck, without a doubt. But when something is off kilter at home, I can't function right. For the first few months after our move from NYC to Miami, Christopher was at a daycare that didn't sit right. And I was in somewhat of a fog. One that I felt embarrassed to admit to anyone, because I am not crazy, but I felt crazy. I couldn't stand dropping him off there and it wasn't until I found the place he's at now until that fog was lifted. It was crippling!


What did you choose for childcare, and how has it been for your family?


Daycare and Family


The pros are that I love that Chris is surrounded by other children and probably having the time of his life and possibly more fun than he has with me. The cons are that I feel like someone else is getting the very best and sweetest time of his life, one that I won't get back. I become a different type of hermit on the weekend where I secretly just want to be close to him every second to make up for it. Which has its own set of cons, namely that I don't get a second to myself. The other con is that he probably has more fun at daycare than he has with me.


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Ultimately, being a mother and wife has made me a fuller version of myself. It's also made me look hyper-critically at my priorities, the things I like and don't like about myself, and most importantly at how I can improve or highlight that for my child. My work used to be the only thing that kept me occupied and in a lot of ways defined who I was. Now, I've had to redefine myself in context of my new roles. It's an identity shift, and one I struggled with immensely during maternity leave and looking back, even more once I got back into work. But when I see that fat little face and blue eyes when I get home, as he is struggling to keep awake but so excited to see me. When I scroll through pics of him during a very boring meeting. When I am on the last flight out on a day trip so I don't have to miss bath time AND breakfast the next day. Those choices are not heroic. Because he doesn't need a hero. He needs a mom. And that's way better.



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