I'm currently writing this in the Salt Lake City Airport, on my way home from my 4th business trip...... this month. Not only did I return to work after we adopted Marcus, I returned to an incredibly demanding job with a lot of travel involved. Through the months of March, April and May I'm typically gone Thursday to Sunday. It used to be my absolute favorite time of year, I actually craved all the travel. Then, I became a mom and the travel is certainly getting harder. When we adopted Marcus, there was a brief discussion on whether I wanted to stay home, but I had always known I would return to work. Instead, my husband was the one to come home from work when Marcus was only a few weeks old and declared that he would not be going back. He wanted to stay home with the baby, and he's been the perfect stay at home dad for the past four months.
As with all decisions as parents, there's a lot of judgement when it comes to deciding to go back to work as a mom. It's interesting to me that you're seeing big changes in advertisement and campaigns for young girls to be strong and independent, to fight for equality and any career they want. Then, when that woman becomes a mom, the message seems to change. I grew up with a stay at home mom, and it was wonderful to have her home. She dedicated her life to her children, and for that I am forever grateful. My husband however, was raised by a mom who worked multiple jobs to make ends meet. He certainly doesn't love his mom any less than I love my mom. His mom made the best choice for her family, and so did my mom.
DISCLAIMER: Please understand that I'm not trying to say women who stay home are making the wrong choice as I write this post. Being a stay at home parent is an incredible amount of work, and I admire all women and men who make the sacrifice to stay at home with their children. It's not possible for all moms though, and some moms really do enjoy working, and there's nothing wrong with that either.
You are NOT a Bad MomI'm going to tell you all a secret. I do not want to stay home with my baby. (Oh yes, I put that in bold and italics! I guess this really isn't a secret after all) It's not that I had to work to make ends meet, we could have lived off my husband's salary. I'm not being forced into working. I LOVE working. Even if my husband made triple the income I do, I would still choose to work rather than being a stay at home mom. And guess what, that doesn't make me a bad mom! I was so ready to return to work after my maternity leave. I actually even worked all through my maternity leave. I love the social interaction, I love the perks that come along with my job, I love the growth potential in my job, and I love exceeding the goals my management sets for me. I feel an immense amount of pride in my job. I love what I do, it's a unique job, and I'm GREAT at it! I'm also a great mom. You can be BOTH! I think it's important to really look at what drives you as an individual. When I was home for my maternity leave, I wasn't the best at getting myself up and ready for the day. Most of the time Marcus and I just binge watched TV on Netflix. I realized in that time that I wasn't a very self motivated person. I needed to continue my career, I needed my job to get me up and going for the day. My paycheck motivates me. Providing for my family motivates me to work even harder at my job. The bottom line is if you feel pride in your career, if you still need that validation at a job, or need the structure that comes with a career, or if your finances require that you work, that does not make you a bad mother. It doesn't mean you don't love your child, it just means you recognize that this is a goal you have in your life, or recognize that you need to provide for your family's needs, and recognize your needs as an individual.
Making Healthy ChoicesIf you've decided to return to work, that means you probably have a sister, or a mother, or that friend that wants to remind you how important it is for you to stay home with your baby. How important that bonding time is. Or, how you'll miss everything if you're working. They are right that the bonding time in the first year is very important, but my bonding time with my son at night and on weekends is pretty great if you ask me. When Marcus rolled over for the first time, I was at a conference in California. It was still awesome when I got home! When I first decided to go back to work, I came across some AMAZING advice on working moms. The article talked about how making healthy choices as a mom is vital to your child's development. Our children learn SO much from us at a young age, far more than we realize. When we make choices that are BEST for us as individuals, or what's BEST for our family, we set an example to our children for making healthy choices. I sincerely hope that by choosing to continue working, my son will see that I am making healthy choices as an individual. I will never understand the mind set that when you become a mother, you no longer get to make choices for YOU. I want a career, I want to continue to grow in my career, and the choice to do so is because it's what I want. Some may call that selfish to put my needs first, but just as I saw with my mom, that she made the best choice for her and our family, I am making a healthy choice to do what's best for me. Personally, and this certainly isn't the case for every woman, working makes me a better mom. I find I am much more balanced with the adult social interaction, the pride I feel in providing for my family, and the moments that I am home I take very seriously in regards to spending time with my son and creating that bond.
Be Kind to Yourself
This is the part where I mention the things you need to know if you are returning to work. I'm going to tell you another secret: it's kind of brutal in the beginning. It's getting easier now, but the first month back to work I felt like a zombie. I'm BEYOND exhausted. Being a working mom means there is no "nap when the baby naps". I found myself wanting to reach through the phone and slap my husband when he would mention him and Marcus had a three hour nap together. If both of us were working, we had already made the decision to possibly hire some outside help in regards to cleaning the house. You just can't be superwoman all the time, and the area I was willing to let go was trying to deep clean the house. A fellow working mom had told me the greatest gift she gave herself was someone to clean the house once every two weeks, and that was GREAT advice. It's okay to admit you need help in certain areas. If you hire someone to clean, good for you! It's still okay to hire a sitter, even if you feel guilty for leaving the baby for another day/night. That's time for maybe you and your partner to go on a date! If you need to get home from work and cry in the garage before heading in to the house because you're so overwhelmed working and being a mom... that's okay too! (I probably shouldn't tell you how many times I've done that.......)
If you're making the choice to go back to work, take pride in doing what's best for YOU and your FAMILY. I seriously cannot comprehend why we as a society would EVER tell a mother that not staying at home with her child is somehow causing harm to a baby. The most important thing for a child is love and having their needs met. Your child would never love you any less, or be less bonded to you if they stay at home with someone else, or go to (gasp!) DAYCARE. Your child will bond to you, they will love you, and they will learn from the choices you make. If you are doing what's best for your family, or doing what YOU need to do in order to be happy and healthy, they will appreciate that and admire the strength in your choice.
PC: Charla Yvonne
Written by Katelyn Bozada