When I was pregnant with my daughter, I had to go to the Human Resources office to ask about my maternity leave. I was told that I could take 12 weeks off, and I thought to myself, that’s it? 12 weeks didn’t seem like enough time with a baby that I spent nine months carrying. I wanted to spend more time with her, even before I had met her. So the day finally came, 36 hours of active labor, and I finally had my daughter. My 12-week countdown was on.
No matter how many books or articles you read, nothing prepares you for that moment when your child arrives into the world and the weeks after. It was hard. I was very fortunate to have a great support system around me. My fiancé took two weeks off from work to stay home with me to help. My mom, mother-in-law, and friends came over and gave me much needed breaks.
At the time, I was the Director of the Student Success Center at Monroe College and had a staff of over 20 people. They would check-in, and sometimes I needed to log on to my computer and do some work from home. It didn’t bother me; I actually missed it.
I wanted to go back to work.
I had major mom guilt and thought that I wanted more time with my daughter, and I did, but I was going stir crazy being at home with the baby by myself. By week eight of being home, I said to my partner, let’s go check out the daycare in town. We mutually decided that I would go back to work at 10 weeks, two weeks earlier than I was supposed to.
I decided that it would be healthy for my daughter and me if I went back to work. It would allow me to miss her and for me to get back part of myself.
Every mother has to decide for themselves what is best for them and their family. I applaud moms who stay at home because I know how draining and tiresome it is. Putting my daughter in daycare made me miss her and appreciate her even more. I cherish the time that I get to spend with her now when I come home from work.
A year later, I went back to teaching high school to have a more flexible schedule (summers off) and spend more time with my daughter while still having a life and career of my own. Self-care is the most important part of being a mom. My career is a big part of who I am and allows me to be a better mom.
So to all the moms balancing their careers and motherhood, it’s okay. Just be sure to carve out some time for yourself and choose what’s best for you and your family.