Being a working parent is hard. Heck, being a parent in general is hard. Before having kids it never even crossed my mind to be a stay at home mom after I had children. I attended four years of college and I had every intention of using my degree. I loved my job too. We had a motto: Work hard, play hard. We worked long hours in the office, followed by hours of computer work once we got home. But on the other side of that was fun. I loved my co-workers. I loved going into the office early and staying late. I loved the travel and the parties. It was the career I dreamed of.
Fast forward to my first baby. Throughout my pregnancy, my aspirations remained the same. I would have my baby, and then I would go back to work. Luckily with my husband’s schedule and my amazing in-laws, childcare would be minimal. And even with childcare, we found a place that was everything we could have imagined. A small, quaint, in-home daycare that was run by the most loving and wonderful woman. The day finally came that I gave birth to a beautiful and perfect little girl. I was lucky enough to spend 3 full months home with her (paid). Well – lucky if you live in the US! One day we’ll match the rest of the world’s maternity leave. But for now, I’ll take the 3 months. My husband got 10 weeks off for paternity leave as well. I know, I know – it was incredible. We were living the American dream.
Then, my three months were up. It was time to get back to work. It was the plan all along, but it wasn’t nearly how I thought I would feel. I’d cry dropping her off. I’d think about her all day. I was distracted. My priorities definitely changed. I was a mom. I was a mom who felt guilty about leaving her tiny three month old in the hands of someone else.
But time heals all, right? As time went on it got easier. I got back into the swing of things and was more myself at work. I was blessed to have an incredible husband at home and wonderful family and friends who helped out when we needed (early mornings, late nights, travel). But it wasn’t the same. I didn’t want to get in early. Traveling wasn’t quite as fun (or rowdy!). And I was always so happy to get back home to my little family.
Two and a half years later we had our second little one. A perfect and sweet little girl. The plan was the same – 3 months of maternity and then back to work. That is not, in fact, what happened. I couldn’t do it. During my leave I spent time figuring out my next steps in life. As a mom and as a professional. Did I just want a few more months off? Did I want to be a stay-at-home mom until they both went off to school? I didn’t know. The amount of different ideas I tossed around was comical. I was going to go back to school to be a teacher so I could have summers off. I was going to open a bridal salon with my cousin. I was going to be an interior designer and an event planner. Thank goodness my husband is amazing. And patient. Oh so patient.
After nine months we were poor and I went back to work part-time. It wasn’t a job I loved. Or product that I loved. But it was part-time and it paid. It’s what I needed.
Then everything changed. One day I woke up and realized that I was not made to be a stay-at-home mom. I wasn’t made to work part-time at a job I didn’t love either. I am smart. I am hard-working. I am passionate. I needed to use my brain and push myself. I needed to get back to work. My only stipulation was that it needed to be something I loved and that was worth leaving my babies for.
I am happy/lucky to say that I found that career. My kiddos are a little older now so it’s a bit easier. But there’s something about going to a job that you love that makes it all worth it. I don’t see it as leaving them. Or letting someone else raise them. I see it as setting an example for them. They can be moms and they can be career-women at the same time. Or, they can stay home with their babies. We live in a world where the choice is truly theirs. They come to work with me and are an integral part of what I do (I realize how lucky that makes me). I am a great mom. And though I feel guilt some days that I am not with them or have to travel, I talk to them about everything so they understand.
Being a working mom is tough. Mentally. Physically. Emotionally. But for me, being a working mom is who I am. I am their mama. I am their role-model.