Mom to Austin and Anthony
Senior Project Manager
Length of maternity leave: 4-weeks
Childcare: Daycare, Friends and Family
What did you struggle with most about returning to work after having your kids?
During leave for my first-born, it was quite an emotional roller coaster. Only 2 weeks after I delivered, my creative director called me and let me know that they were laying me off. It was 2008, the midst of the economy spiraling. I was floored. It felt like the entire world was crumbling on top of popping percosets to manage the pain and healing from my c-section. My husband was in the process of transitioning into a federal position and was still getting grounded after leaving the US Coast Guard. Thankfully, through connections and previous interviews, my next opportunity fell into place quickly. Sadly, it required that I return to work only 3.5 weeks after having my son. I remember the week I went back vividly. My boobs were so engorged in between breaks. Piecing together childcare was stressful. I was the only new mother in the agency, so there was no room for mothers to pump. I desperately set up in a 3 stall bathroom on the toilet seat, listening to the pump sounds "whirrrr-whirrrr"echo through the entire bathroom. Realizing the bathroom was not a good pumping station, the staff finally set up a room for me, with white sheets of paper covering the clear office glass. I wish I took a picture now that I reflect.
What do you find difficult about being a working parent?
I commute over an hour one way to my office and making it to school activities and practices are next to impossible without asking to leave early. During the stage we're at now, there is SOOOO much pressure of having your children enrolled in extra curricular activities. We just finished flag football, and I could barely make it to the games and missed almost every practice. The shame of having to ask other moms or coordinating 2-hour babysitters who can pick them up and take them to practice is exhausting. I know that I shouldn't have to feel shame since they are a part of my "village", it's just a crummy feeling that I'm their mother and I can't always be there.
What do you enjoy about being a working parent?
I know that my fulfillment in doing what I love, earning money for my family and showing my sons my work ethic will only benefit them in the long run. Showing my children that everything we've earned is through hours of dedication to our work is an important learning. Everything is earned. Although I work, I do everything in my power to make it to their school award ceremonies, talent shows and sports games. On the weekends, I make up for my time away from the kids by going on family excursions and adventures. I even started a blog specific to sharing sunsets and adventures with the boys - www.sunsetswithkids.com
After being back at work for some time, have your views about career and family changed?
Yes. Through many mentors at work, I've learned two things. 1) The work will always be there. Take the vacation. Go on the trip. Don't miss the school programs your kiddos need you at for support. 2) Supporting other parents is soooo important. I co-lead a group called VivaMama. It's a supportive community of mothers, parents, and allies that is committed to creating policies and programs that support mothers and parents in the workplace. I've heard other mothers say, "I'm so glad that I have a child so I can be a part of this group." Hearing that feedback is heartwarming, because at the end of the day, we need each other to get through the day to day.
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?
My situation was a unique one given that I was laid off during my leave. It was a quick and painful transition back into the workplace. Less than a full month break before having to get back into the work groove. Now that it's all said and done, my sacrifice and time away from my firstborn brought us opportunities in the long run that truly helped set our family up for its future. It definitely wasn't what I wanted, but in the long term, I was able to have my 2nd child and stay home with him for the first year while working remotely.
What did you choose for childcare, and how has it been for your family?
Family support, Daycare, Best friends, Mother-in-laws
During the school year we utilize the after-school care program here in Southern California. The program ends at 6pm sharp. Every minute after you're late, you are charged a fee. I work over an hour away from my son's school and it requires me to sometimes leave 1.5 early in order to make it by 6pm. My husband works at the LAX airport and is sometimes drafted overtime with no option of declining. This puts us in a tough position. In a commuting state, it's just amazing to me that the system doesn't offer later than 6pm for those commuting from different cities. Incredibly frustrating and stressful.
Anything else to share?
Being a mother is such a rewarding, challenging and beautiful experience all in one. It's a good feeling to know that we're living in a time where social media is helping create a culture that brings light to the challenges mothers face in the workplace. Let's keep the honest conversation going and be good to one another. We never really know what other parents are up against. Offering support, a listening ear and straying away from judgement make up the fundamentals of building a strong community.