When we first had Emma, we just couldn’t afford for me to not work. So the subject of me working or staying home with our new baby was not really a discussion. More of a, “Well…this is how it has to be.” It was a mutual decision made based on where we were at the time.
If you’re a working mom….you probably know. Dropping my 3 month old off at daycare truly broke my heart. I watched her on video all day long that day and didn’t get much done. (There were many days like this.) Thankfully, my husband always dropped her off and I had the happy job of pick-up! And so it went for two years.
I suffered from some mild postpartum depression, and going back to work and getting back into my routine really helped with my healing and feeling normal again. But it sucked. Every day. It did not get easier for me (though some women claimed it would-and if it did for you that’s great! It just didn’t for me), and very quickly I became that “person” at work. You know the one:
The employee who flew out of the office the minute her 8 hours were worked. While at work I worked as hard as everyone else, put all of me into the business of helping others. However, when my time was done, so was I. Of course I was aware that others noticed and I wasn’t the employee available to work all hours-comments made-I just didn’t care.
-Who’s hour drive home was made unbearable by the thought of my baby in daycare longer than necessary because of traffic.
-The woman who turned down invitation after invitation to drinks or dinner with friends or coworkers because she was already in daycare so long and choosing to make her stay longer felt wrong.
-Who stopped running because going for a run meant leaving her in daycare longer than she had to be, and well, you see the pattern.
I was looked at like the girl who wasn’t a “team player” when in reality I did give my all during my work hours, but when 3:30 pm hit, I left for my other job. My day wasn’t over. There was still taking care of the tiny human who needed me (and a big human too-hey hubs!), and this job was equally as exhausting, and lasted longer. Then it was waking up and returning to a place that saw me as someone doing the ‘minimum’. That sucked too.
It was lose/lose in my eyes. I was, “doing it all” but the organization chose not to see that and simply saw what I wasn’t willing to do (like going to the airport to pick up a client which meant I would work a 7am-10pm schedule). I constantly saw areas for improvement with how companies treat moms and dads in the workforce. I’m not really sure why I chose to write about this particular subject, except that I still live with the feelings associated with my daughter at daycare AND doing my best without being willing to sacrifice more time with my infant daughter. It’s still frustrating. Still sad.
If you’re that working mom or dad who feels the same I just want to say, you’re doing great. Your child is ok, that doesn’t mean it’s easy-but they feel your love and that’s truly what matters. Also, LEAVE ON TIME if you want! Go grab your baby, snuggle and not miss out on even more time than you already have. Don’t carry guilt. Don’t worry about appearances. That’s much easier said than done-I know- but I got to a point when I just realized I was the mom of my daughter-and its very OK that I want to spend a full 3 hours with her a day! Crazy right?!
Hopefully one day, things are better for the working parent. Understanding is present, and accommodations made. I’m sure there are places where these qualities exist, but I would venture and guess it’s the exception and not the rule.
In October our family moved from Houston, TX to Orlando, FL. With this move came the amazing opportunity for me to stay with my daughter full time. It’s been an adjustment, absolutely, but I’m thankful the war between my job as a mother and my job at an organization is over. I hope one day that feeling of, “leaving on time is taboo, and staying late is what defines a hard worker” fades away. Until then, just know you’re not alone. All those minutes you count until you can hold your babe-I’ve counted them too. The voice you’ve found where saying, “No” comes easier but as a result you’re seen differently-I found that voice too. You’re doing your best, you’re doing enough.
I think I realized the purpose of this post: comfort. There is just something about reading someone else’s experience that mirrors your own and going, “Yes! I thought it was just me. I’m not alone” that brings some comfort in difficult times.
**Side note: If you’re a mom or dad who has a little one in daycare and experience absolutely no guilt, and love your job and love working as long and hard as you do because you love what you do and you’re good at it and it helps others-much love to you!! I don’t mean to isolate anyone or pass judgment. This is just me, speaking my experience and hoping others experiencing something similar find comfort in knowing their feelings are part of a community full of others who know that feeling well!