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?

6 Comments on Can women really have it all, the amazing career and family life? I don’t think so…

  1. Court I felt the same way you are feeling and I believe most mommies do. It was pretty bad when I had you and Shaun because the whole women’s movement was really in it’s infancy and Helen was screaming “I am Woman..hear me roar!” and you felt like you weren’t really whole or whatever if you weren’t doing it all…babies, work, kids sports, being fit, looking great, being a superstar mom and being a superstar at work! Ugh..

    You are lucky to have Jeff who helps out so much. And being able to work from home two days a week is awesome! Sometimes it’s a matter of developing a “system” of how this all works. Adding 30-45 minutes extra to your day could help…by maybe getting up earlier and not rushing. Feeling rushed everyday is not good. Make it quality time by getting a system down each morning.

    One of the things that always helped me when I dropped you and Shaun off at the day care center was that you both seemed to enjoy going there and the lil ole ladies always loved you! Hang in there..it’ll get better. But I do believe that the struggle within stays for a long time…at least until school comes.

    You’re a great mom and I am so proud of you!! And Annabelle is a really happy little girl!!

    Love, Mom

  2. I feel like a better employee now, than I was pre-baby, but I would never stay late. My work ethic is higher, but I seem to miss more work due to time off for the daycare worker…sigh.

  3. I think I’m a better worker now than I was pre-baby, too. I’m definiely more productive with my time since I have a flexible schedule. Buut, I def think that in the first few months back I wasn’t necessarily knocking anyone’s socks off with my work product. I was doing the job, but not really going above and beyond. I feel like I’ve got my groove back in the last few months though, so that’s good.

  4. Well…I’ll let you know in a month! LOL That’s when I go back..and funny thing, I just blogged about feeling stressed about returning soon today! I’m a new blogger..just getting started in fact and found it funny that I came across your site shortly after posting. Anyways….it was hard going back to work after having my son and I was very determined to make it all work out but my circumstances were very different way back then…this time it’s hard too, but I think for different reasons.

  5. I can definitely relate to this post, Courtney. I also work full-time, but work from home two days per week thanks to a very considerate and understanding employer. Sometimes I think that people in our (uncommon) situation have it a bit tougher than full-time working moms whose kids are in daycare or with a nanny and full-time stay at home moms who don’t have to worry about out-of-home work responsibilities and obligations. In my situation, I honestly feel like I’m BOTH a full-time stay at home mom and a full-time employee and that’s a tremendous amount of stress on one person. It helps to know that there is at least one other mama out there in my situation. Hang in there!

  6. I hear ya, Judy. I also feel like I need to get stuff done around the house on my work from home days, but I also want to get a bunch of work done on those days to show that I’m really working so I don’t lose this privilege! It’s stressful. Sorry for late reply, I’ve been a little MIA in the blog in the past few months!

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