Mom to Lucy
Occupation: Program Associate
Length of Mat Leave: 6 weeks
What was your experience like returning to work after having your children?
I was so AMPED to return to work. The employer I was with at the time even took the time reassure me that if I needed a few more weeks, I was more than welcome to do so. While I would have liked to have been paid a little bit more, the family-friendly environment that my employer created was something I'm incredibly grateful for. They gave me my own room to pump in, along with a mini fridge for storage and never made me feel pressured to skip sessions. I've horror heard stories about women who have had to pump in storage closets and bathrooms.
I also hit the jackpot in the Dad department. He's got horrible man-memory and cannot locate anything, BUT he's great at assembling furniture, accessories, baby-things, car-seats, bottle sanitation, diaper bag packing, and all without me asking. I've been blessed with a family man. I think for the most part, our culture still expects the mom to handle everything family-related, and unfortunately shared responsibility is the societal norm just yet. We're getting there, and he's a great example.
What do you find difficult about being a working parent?
Spreading myself too thin and getting the freaking laundry done. My husband and I are not homebodies and I have trouble saying "no" to the people we love. It's hard to fit a social life into one weekend, so trying to spend quality time with friends and family during the week is something I'm not wanting to compromise just yet. But something has to give, and sometimes that means that laundry gets backed up. My socks never match, and now that I have baby socks to keep track of, Lucy's socks never match either.
What do you enjoy about being a working parent?
Having "Me" time. Some people thrive from being alone, but I need to be around people who have been on the planet more than 5 months. I love that her dad and I both share in the financial responsibility of caring for her.
Finding that work-life balance has really strengthened the relationship between my he and I. We motivate and encourage each other to be better people, not only as parents, but as professionals.
After being back at work for some time, have your views about career and family changed?
I realized what an incredible luxury it is to do something that you "love". Especially in California where the cost of living is ridiculously high. Prior to having my daughter, I was incredibly career-oriented. I still am, but climbing the proverbial professional ladder is difficult and trusting the process requires faith and patience.
I know what I want out of my career and professional life, but sometimes that's hard to illustrate to other people when they know you have a child. Of course I want a job that has security, good benefits, good wages, but I also want work that gives me joy and purpose so I don't come and channel my unrest and frustrations onto my husband and a 12 pack of light beer. I'm not cut out for the retail and corporate world. But there's so much outside pressure to "have it all together" before you start a family, and no one talks about those incredibly real middle class struggles like budgeting, and not having a bed frame.
Working in the non-profit sector, it still baffles me how anyone making less than I do is able to get by while raising families with multiple children. There is still so much that needs to change in this country in regards to PFL, sick leave, healthcare. I guess those views have changed. I'm more fired up about those things, now more than ever. But I'm absolutely determined to model a life-well-lived for my daughter, and I'm prepared to make sacrifices so she knows there's more to life than the Rat Race.
If I'm going to spend 8 hours a day away from my loved ones, I damn well better be doing something that matters! Even before my daughter, I was incredibly career-oriented, but after having her I found myself more motivated than ever. I hate complacency, and I want to model that for Lucy. Aside from the grace and accommodations that my previous employer gave me, having my daughter made me realize how important it was that I return to a line of work that fulfills me.
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?
Trust the process. Everything takes time and everything passes.
What did you choose for childcare, and how has it been for your family?
Daddy, Babysitters, Grandma, and a "The Village"
Pros: We have a pretty big circle of friends and family who absolutely love her and have offered to switch days watching her. It's been great so that no one feels burned out, I think. My main babysitter, my mom and dad, and my grandma are her primary caretakers and I'm so grateful for all of them. Cons: I wish I could pay them more.