My daughter was just born, and I was about to make that transition back to work. I felt good that I was at a job where I could begin at part-time and add days and hours in the weeks to come. Further, I was also blessed with working four blocks away from my sister-in-law who was happy to watch my daughter. Although I felt lucky to have such a good plan, my heart still ached thinking about my precious baby being rocked to sleep by someone else. There was an emptiness in my stomach that spread through my whole body. My soul went cold with impending dread, and I felt a sense of betrayal . For I could not, would not continue to be the sole nurturing force in her life any longer. While I would be at work, someone else would be enjoying my little girl’s coos, her new baby scent, her delicateness and innocence that sparks the calming sensation that washes over you as you hold her in your arms. Not to mention having to come to terms with the fact that her first time crawling, her first word, and her first steps could happen without me. It’s very possible that someone else will get to experience this gift. How is this fair? How is it okay that our economy forces me to leave my baby when she needs me most, when I need her most. At this point, it’s not even about guilt, it’s about despair.
I was at the doctor’s office, and I had thought I was doing a good job of masking my trepidation of going back to work. She asked me if I had any questions, as she always did. I replied, “no?” in a not sure if I should have questions tone. And she told me, “don’t worry.” It’s as if she knew exactly what I needed to hear, even though I wasn’t ready to face what I was feeling. Before the guilt could really set in, her words, her truths would enable me and motivate me to accept the reality. I wouldn’t have to wallow in my disappointment and loathing of the American FMLA.
She advised me and shared her own story:
“You get to be the kind of mom you want to be. Just because you are working does not mean you won’t be there. Every moment I’m not at work, I am with my children. I’m having meals with them, attending their school activities, helping them with their homework. I haven’t gotten to watch tv for awhile, but that’s okay. I probably spend more time really being with my kids than if I didn’t work.”
I went to my vehicle, told my husband about my doctor’s pep talk, and that’s when it really sunk in. I don’t have to miss out on my kids life by going to work like I had thought. Instead, I’m there, refreshed, loving every minute I have with them because I go to work and have to experience missing them. It doesn’t make me less of a mom, it really makes me more of a mom. I can appreciate each moment, even the stressful, crying, tantruming moments. It’s all a matter of perspective. I can choose to feel sad, like I’m missing out. But I won’t. I choose to see how my children’s lives are enriched because I have the mental energy to play with them when I get home. Every second with them is a blessing, as I know how it feels to wish I was at home with them. And when I’m at work, feeling stressed or hopeless, my self-care is going home and giving all my love and affection to my kids knowing it’s going to be warmly received with snuggles and laughter. I know the stay-at-home-mom loves her children just as much as I do, and in no way do I think one way is better than the other. In fact, I often find myself wishing and trying to concoct ways I can be at a stay-at-home-mom. But I have to be realistic and true to who I am, and that’s a working mom. I simply make the best of my situation knowing that working allows me the opportunity to be tuned in to my children in each moment I am with them. I am driven to be a supermom.