This has been a topic I’ve avoided for like 8 months because I really didn’t want co-workers seeing my thoughts on the matter and exposing my insecurities about being a new mama back in the working world. The reality for me is that it has been a slow process of getting “my groove back.” Stella, where the heck are you!?
When I returned to work in November 2011 I was a shell of a human being. My body was physically there, but my mind was with my 3 month old tiny baby crying in a swing in a daycare center 45 minutes away. Looking back on this, part of me wonders if I could do that again. Three months is just so young. In a perfect world, we mamas could take 6-12 months off! I guess we should just move to Switzerland and enjoy those dreamy year-long maternity leaves. Wouldn’t that be amazing? But anyway, that’s not my reality. My reality is that I struggled between the desire to be with my baby and the desire to kick butt in my career — and a year later, I still struggle with this.
I’d really like to take a poll of new moms who returned to work postpartum to see how many felt like they were better than ever at their jobs. Were you so thrilled to get some adult time that you blew your boss’s mind upon your return? Are you a super star working mama? If so, that’s awesome and you’re making me very jealies. But I’m thinking the reality is that a lot of new moms feel they aren’t as tenacious about their careers as they once were, and of course that can show in your work productivity. Am I right? If your hearts not really in it, are you churning out stuff like it’s no one’s business, or just getting by?
Honestly, I think it takes a good year to really get back in the saddle. I mean, your priorities are different now. You aren’t necessarily willing to stay until 6:30 at night at the risk of narrowing that evening window after work with your baby before bedtime. This can definitely put you at a disadvantage to younger coworkers who don’t have the same family priorities that you now have. All you can really do here is either decide you’re going to try to compete with that, or just accept a different standard for yourself. That can be the hard part for anyone who wants both — the satisfying career and the valuable family time.
I’m lucky that I get to work from home two days a week, and for the first 6 months of my return to work I only worked 32 hours. But despite my flex schedule that I so appreciate, I always feel like the grass is greener on the other side. I sometimes ponder what it would be like to be a stay at home mom. Being with Annabelle for so much time over my week and a half vacay back to the Midwest definitely planted that seed in my mind. But I know that for me personally, I don’t think I would be 100% fulfilled not working outside of the home. I’d go crazy.
See what I mean? This is why I think we can’t have it all. I don’t think I’d be satisfied being a SAHM, and of course I’m insecure about my work life after baby. Am I doing anything good enough? Am I helping out enough around the house after work, baby playtime and bath time? No, probably not. Am I going above and beyond at work every day? No. *shrugs shoulders*
I am woman, HERE ME ROAR!
Whatever, Feminist Nancy — it’s not the truth. Don’t expect to have it all. The grass is always greener on the other side. It’s hard to have enough love in your heart for both your child and your career. Something inevitably takes a back seat to the other. I don’t have it all, but I’m just trying to be happy and feel appreciative of what I do have.
What do you think? Can moms have it all?