Mom to Wesley
Occupation: Real Estate Investor, Self-Employed
Length of Mat Leave: 4 Months
What was your experience like returning to work after having your children? How has COVID impacted that?
When I first returned back to work (at the time I was a full-time Office Manager at a Catholic university), I was miserable. When I dropped off my son at daycare for the first time, I felt so empty. Struggling with postpartum depression was one thing, as well as navigating our first child without familial support (Army life = far away from family). A month after returning to work I spoke to my boss about switching to part-time and she agreed, which seemed so impossible. I stayed part time for almost 1.5 years until his schedule shifted so being full time was doable, both mentally and physically, again.
What do you find most challenging about being a working parent?
It was hard for me to get my priorities straight. I was good at my job though didn't particularly enjoy it, which led to guilt. I felt I could be doing more for my son, which led to guilt. I was presented with a job opportunity right after my maternity leave ended, my dream job. For a very enthusiastic few hours, I was so excited. Then, reality set in. It WAS my dream job, but it no longer was. Everything I thought I knew about myself went upside down and I had to find my way out. Having patience with myself went right alongside having patience with my son as we both navigated this new life we had together.
What do you enjoy about being a working parent? Any silver linings if you're working from home?
Schedules are a magical thing. Once my son really figured out his schedule (sleep, eating, play, etc) and I could see his joy in going to daycare (what I call "baby school") then it was easier to get my own schedule going. My son has a life that is just his at school and a life with us at home and I'm proud of that. Sometimes family and friends, intentionally or not, insinuate that I should be content with a stay at home parent life (which I'm not naysaying!) but for us, schedules have made motherhood possible for me.
After being back at work for some time, have your views about career and family changed?
We are getting ready to move so I left my job and am now fully focusing on a new career, real estate investing. I am so ready to be my own lady boss and work on something full time that has been a back burner passion for so long. Being in this new position has left me time to feel grateful for my little family. When I was so focused on doing the "right thing", nothing felt right. Now, things feel like they're falling into place.
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 I would have given myself more grace and sought the counseling I so desperately needed.
What did you choose for childcare, and how has it been for your family?
Anything else you want to share?
I thought that the hardest part of motherhood would be figuring out how to change a diaper or breastfeeding. Instead, I came head to head with myself and mental illness. I didn't know how bad I was hurting. My advice to all mothers out there, whether you are handling motherhood with ease or fumbling in the dark is to seek help. In this time of transition, you will learn so much about yourself, all for the better, so if you can surround yourself with family, friends, and especially mental health support, you will be the better for it.