I'm in awe of how attentive and fun Laci is as a mom. When I see social media evidence of her adventures with her son, I always think, "I hope I'm half that fun someday." Laci also works full-time, and I love her story. I think you will, too.
I remember when my little boy was born, just four short years ago; my how the time has flown by. I knew when I had my son I would have to go back to work. My husband was in graduate school and his small stipend would not support a family of three in an expensive city like Somerville. I took three months off of work and enjoyed every minute with my sweet baby.
It was very difficult to prepare to go back to work; I was not ready to leave this helpless and beautiful baby. We found a friend to watch the little guy for a few months while I first went back to work and until my husband finished the semester, and could be home with the baby in the summer.
When I first went back to work I was miserable. The line of work I did was not conducive with pumping and slowly my milk dried up. I had to give up breast feeding--which had gone so well--after just four months.
There was a lot of guilt related with going back to work. In my church community, I didn't even know a handful of women who worked while raising children. When women from church asked if I was going back to work, they seemed shocked when I said yes. It was quickly followed up by the "Full-time?" question, to which I also had to reply positively. Every time I saw a working mom I wanted to ask her, "Does the guilt ever go away?" But the thought of actually letting these words leave my mouth made me feel like a loser and the tears would come straight to the surface.
Life changed a lot for me, as for any new mother. I would work, but then come straight home and all my time was devoted to my baby until he went to bed. When I wasn't working, I was with him. My social life, which had always been very important to me, was suddenly less important, and I learned to start saying no to things that were asked of me outside of work. We started getting away more as a family, out of the house, so that we could just have quality family time. I wanted to create memories and not focus on house projects and my "to do" list.
As time progressed, I got into a good routine. I found people I trusted to watch my little boy. Once he turned one the guilt started to leave me. I reconciled my guilt with a few things:
1- I was working to provide for my family, to pay for things that we needed to survive.
2- As a social worker, I find great fulfillment in my work and find it very important.
3- I love working.
4- I need the adult socialization that my work provides.
5- Working makes me a better mother.
6- Even though I am a working mother, my little boy still knows who I am and we have a lot of quality time together.
7- My son and I still have a strong bond.
8- I can balance work and family.
9-When I am with my family we are doing memorable things such as exploring, using our imaginations or learning new things.
So for you working moms with little ones at home, if you feel guilt, you don't need to. You are still an amazing mother. Don't allow that guilt to bring you down!
I had to realize that just because I am a working mother doesn't mean I am a bad mother. I am a damn good mother, to be honest with you! I am not afraid to say that I love my work and I love my son and that is okay. I put my heart and soul into my work, and when I come home I put my heart and soul into my son and my husband. When my son goes to bed, I take care of myself. This balance works for me. My son and I are very close; we do a lot of fun things together and I love the things we do together. I cannot see myself at this stage in life being a full-time stay at home mother; it would not be fulfilling to me. I would love to be able to work part-time, but at this point that is not an option, so I make the most of the cards I am dealt.
I have learned that as women, we are all different. Different things work for different people. Some women love to stay at home, some, like me, love to work and be a mother. There is not one perfect solution. We have to respect and support all women in whatever decision they chose. We need to let go of guilt we feel for how we mother, and just enjoy it. These little lives are precious and we just have to enjoy every moment we are given with them, because the time goes by so fast.