Mom to Emma
Occupation: Account Director, Advertising Agency
Length of Mat Leave: 14 weeks
Childcare: Nanny-share and Grandma
What did you struggle with most about returning to work after having your kids?
When I returned to work at my advertising agency, I felt like myself, only…different. There was a sense of déjà vu returning to an office and coworkers I’m so familiar with but feeling like a very changed person. I now have this huge and amazing responsibility at home, and almost all my priorities have shifted because of this tiny person.
What do you find difficult about being a working parent?
I feel guilty when I leave my daughter in the morning, and I feel guilty when I leave work promptly at 5:00 every night. I feel like I’m in a constant state of push-pull. I want to be home with my daughter 24/7, but I still want a career. It’s less about achieving a balance, and more learning how to be this new person with different goals that drive me – and giving myself the grace and space to discover what that looks like.
What do you enjoy about being a working parent?
Being a working mom gives me a sense of dual accomplishment. Not only am I providing value to my clients and team I manage while simultaneously building my career, but I’m also keeping a tiny human alive and thriving – that’s incredible! On the tough days, I imagine what my daughter as a young girl would say when someone asks what her mommy does for work –and I focus on making sure I can provide her an answer she’d be proud to give.
After being back at work for some time, have your views about career and family changed?
I’ve always known I wanted to be a mother, so even as a child-free professional, I empathized with working parents. The juggle is so hard, and never-ending. Corporate America has many strides to make to better support parents in the workforce, as well as educate non-parents on how to support their coworkers who are balancing two full-time jobs. Resources such as adequate maternity/paternity leave policies, emergency back-up childcare, flexible work hours, and remote working/telecommuting options need to be the norm.
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?
The anticipation is sometimes (for me, at least) worse than the actual return to work. It gave me such anxiety thinking about how it would feel to miss her all day, and worrying how she's being cared for, that I cried every day for two weeks leading up to my return. But, once I was actually back at work, I had a great day! I missed interacting with my co-workers and feeling challenged in ways other than caring for a newborn 24/7. Worry is a useless emotion, so don’t waste your time at home with your little one on it – just enjoy that babe!
What did you choose for childcare, and how has it been for your family?
Nanny-share and grandmother
My mother-in-law lives close by and has generously offered one day a week of childcare. Not only does this help alleviate financial strain, but I love that my daughter will have a deep, rich relationship with her grandmother. The nanny-share arrangement has proven difficult and we’re currently looking for a new family and a new nanny. The adage ‘you get what you pay for’ couldn’t be truer!
Anything else you'd like to share?
A lot of the testimonials I’ve read on The Returnity Project are women who feel fulfilled in their career and proud to serve as an example to their kids, but what about those of us who are feeling lost? I used to feel fulfilled in my career, but now…..I just, don’t. I leave my daughter every morning so I can afford to pay someone else to care for her.
Why? Yes, I’d like to maintain our current lifestyle and provide my daughter the world. But, is that worth missing this oh-so-special time when she’s a little baby, discovering the world? Every day, I don’t get to experience these amazing moments and milestones, and I don’t know if it’s worth it. Can anyone else relate?