I'm a Working Mom: The Best Things I Ever Did for Myself
Being a mom sometimes feels like your days are made up of sacrifice after sacrifice strung together with small victories and maybe some small breakdowns thrown in there a few times a week. Being a working mom feels like all of the above, and then you not only have a baby to answer to, but a slew of bosses, deadlines, and clients who need something from you right now.
I am a workaholic through and through. Although I don't love every single moment at my job, I'm incredibly proud of my career and couldn't imagine myself doing anything else but what I do day to day. With that said, before we even adopted our son, it felt like the rose colored glasses were coming off. We got the call about our birth mom picking us, and it felt like from that moment on I was under a microscope. I was reminded multiple times to not allow myself to get "distracted" by the excitement going on in my personal life. I was asked to have an extremely detailed maternity plan in which I would work most days through maternity so I could continue to respond to my clients needs. I wish I could say I stood up for myself in those first few months of my son's life.... but I didn't. I worked at night when our newborn would sleep. During the day I would try to call clients while he slept, and between all that... I cried from pure misery, but I didn't have the guts to stand up for myself. I wanted to prove that I was a dedicated employee. A few weeks after returning to the office full time, I remember coming home and crying in the garage because I just couldn't bring myself to walk into my house and be "on" for my son. I didn't want to hold him, I wanted to cry into a bathtub. Something absolutely had to give.
The first thing that I did for myself was open up communication to my husband.
I have always felt that we've had a great relationships, but I had been holding in some things thinking it was a better choice to just "let it go" than bring it up. I needed more help around the house and I needed more sleep. My husband did a lot of housework since he stayed home with the baby, but I still felt like I was going to work, coming home and having to do even more housework, and then finally getting an hour to see my son. They weren't always the easiest conversations, but I learned to start saying more specific things I needed help with, and being very honest about the fact that I couldn't handle much more on my plate.
The second things I did for myself, and an absolute must for working moms... put the phone down.
I am completely addicted to my cell phone and my husband called me out on being on my phone instead of being in the moment with them when I got home. More importantly, I needed to stop checking my email when I got home. Nothing has ever stopped me from checking my email like having a child. I have a very long list of clients that email me at night and expect a response right that minute, but now... they can wait until the morning. I'm off the clock, and it's my son's time with me. They had 8 hours during the day to contact me, now it's family time. I've also learned that once my clients know I'll respond at night, they'll continually expect a response from me at night. I was training the people I work with to take advantage of me, and it had to stop. As much as I love my job, and want to prove to everyone around me that I'm invested 100% into my job and my clients needs, my son and my husband have to come first, and I'm putting my foot down on my company asking me to sacrifice any more time away from them. If that means that my career takes a hit, so be it. I feel like I have a demanding job, and I know some moms have even more demanding jobs, and finding that work life balance can feel impossible. In my opinion, in 25 years I will remember the time I spent with my family more than I will remember fighting for that promotion, or closing that deal. At the end of the day, it's just a job. It's just a paycheck to support my family, and I have to remember everyday that my title is first and foremost wife and mother, my job title comes second for the sake of my sanity and my family.
Take time to cry as a mom. My co-workers know that I call the bubbles in my bubble bath, "non judgmental bubbles". It was something silly that I said once and it's now become an office joke. I cry in the bathtub because the bubbles won't judge me for not wanting to spend time with my child, or not wanting to go to work, or not wanting to do anything. Find a simple joy in life that's all yours and don't sacrifice it. Whether that's your morning coffee, a favorite class at the gym, lunch with your co-workers, or hidden snacks just for you that you eat when your children go to bed. All of us are just trying to make a living and love our children fiercely while doing it. It's not always easy, in fact it never feels easy, but you have to figure out ways to make life a little easier on you. You might think you're superwoman, but even she needs a little help every now and then.