I always thought I would want to be a stay at home mom. Why would I want to go to work when I could stay home and do whatever I wanted with a little bundle of joy that I love more than anything in the world?
So I was shocked when I found myself looking forward to the end of my maternity leave and returning to the land of adults.
I still remember the turning point when I realized maybe being a stay-at-home mom wasn’t for me.
For days, I had been looking forward to going to Costco. When we finally pulled into the parking lot, baby had a meltdown of epic proportions. He would not stop crying, even when I tried nursing him. Because we had to get items for a potluck dinner, Eric went into Costco by himself while I stayed in the car with an inconsolable infant. As the thirty-minute mark approached, I started crying out of frustration. I wanted to go to Costco so badly!! And then I started crying even harder, because how sad was it that my life’s happiness now revolved around going to Costco?!
It was a tough moment, my friend.
So it would be surprising then that the day before I was set to return to work, I spent all day sobbing at the thought of leaving my three-month-old. I hadn’t been away from him for more than a few hours since he was born, and now I was set to leave him for almost 10 hours to go to work.
Will he think I abandoned him? Will he get upset with me? Will he still know that I love him more than anything in the world?
Every time I changed his diaper, I sobbed and told him that I still loved him and that me going to work didn’t mean I loved him any less.
And then my fears over his care escalated.
How could anyone else take care of him the way I take care of him? Will they know that one cry means he’s hungry and his other cry means he’s tired? Will they know that he likes to be sitting up and hates to be lying down?
Then I remembered that I had spent time and effort into building my village. Every working mom needs a village.
I have spent years building my village. I always knew that Eric and I would have kids, and some of the big decisions I have made have revolved around whether or not those decisions would complement my life with children.
When I contemplated looking for a new job, the promise of three weeks of vacation for my five-year anniversary (four weeks after 10 years!), my excellent health insurance, and my alternating Friday off schedule were all benefits that I knew would come in handy for a life with kids. Things eventually got better at my job and I have been rewarded nicely for my hard work.
When we started looking for a house, my two main requirements were that it be within a 15-minute commute of my job, and a 10-minute drive from my parents.
Being the first one in my extended family to have a baby, I have an endless list of aunts and cousins to call on for help.
As luck would have it, really good friends of ours with kids moved back into our area just weeks after we had E. I have called on this friend countless times with all my new baby frustrations and new mom worries—and she has been invaluable to me.
I have leaned on my in-laws for care and companionship.
The transition to work has been almost seamless. And I think a large part of that has to do with knowing that my son is well taken care of while I am away. Most days, he stays home with his dad. And on the days Eric works, he goes to a nanny and my parents alternate picking him up in the early afternoon when they get off work. And on the days the nanny can’t watch him, we call on my mother-in-law. And then I watch him on my alternating Fridays off.
This mish-mash of care requires a carefully executed calendar with five different copies for everyone that takes turns watching him. I love that my son is surrounded by people who love him.
Building my village didn’t happen overnight, but having them now has been invaluable to me and has made my transition to working mom a lot smoother.
I used to wonder how mothers could voluntarily choose to work instead of being home and raising their kids themselves. And now I realize that mommy needs a break too! No one asks my husband how it feels to be a working father and no one makes him feel guilty for not being a stay at home dad.
I can’t be my child’s everything. And I get lots of joy and satisfaction from seeing my son loved by so many and being positively influenced by others.
Working moms, if I have any advice to give, it’s to build yourself a village.