I’m not exaggerating here – I think I cried five times in the staff washroom while going through the thousands of pictures on my phone. I FaceTimed him around noon, only for both of us to start crying because we missed each other so much. I cursed myself for not marrying a hotel heir so that I could stay home. I counted down those minutes until five o’clock, and then I willed the train conductor to just drive a little faster so I could hold my baby quicker.
Rinse. Lather. Repeat.
I went through this for a few more weeks – some tears (from both baby and myself) and my son became even more of a velcro child than ever before. I couldn’t shower in peace, use the washroom or put on my glasses without him thinking I was leaving.
And then it got easier. Yes, that’s right – it gets easier. For anyone who’s expecting or currently on maternity leave with their first baby and dreading going back to work: it does get easier, but that’s not to say it’s not bloody difficult.
Mothers are some of the most judged beings on this planet. If you don’t believe me, just ask a new mom.
If you breastfeed, you have the formula-feeders out at full force with a million arguments against it. But if you formula-feed your baby, then you have the pro-breastfeeders telling you how how it’s unnatural. If you co-sleep, you’re being told that you *may* roll over on your baby or it causes SIDS. But if you let them sleep in their own crib in their own room, you’re a selfish mother. Then comes the organic vs non-organic baby food, screen time limits, what language you speak with your kid at home, and blah blah blah. It never ends, and the working mom also goes through a million little conflicts and what-if situations in her head, and let’s not forget … the working mom guilt.
Every single mom I spoke with mentioned the guilt you’ll feel when you go back to work – and it’s different for everyone.
Some feel guilty that they’re returning back to work and leaving their child at daycare or with other caregivers. Some feel guilty that they actually want to go back to work, as if they’re less of a mother for wanting to spend quality time with adults for 8 hours a day. Some feel guilty when they have to work late or attend an event, thinking they should be home tucking their little one in every night. Some feel guilty when they try to take an hour of their weekend to go grab a quick coffee with their friend, as if they should be spending every free moment with their child.
It’s hard. I feel it. I am forever struggling with trying to find the perfect balance between killing it at work and being the best mom (and wife!) ever at home.
I’ve been lucky that 88 Creative has been amazing with my transition back to work. With more work from home flexibility (thanks Erin!) and a great team that understands my mom brain all too well (hi Char & Morg!), it’s been a walk in the park getting back into the groove of things.
I leave right around 5-5:30 every day, and spend a few hours with my son before he goes to bed. Once he’s asleep for the night (fingers crossed), I finish up any work that I need to for the next day, and go to bed. The days I work from home gives me an extra FOUR hours to hang out with him – two in the morning before I log on at 9 AM and two in the evening once I log off at 5 PM. I know people are curious about how I can work from home with a velcro-child, but I just head over to the local Starbucks or hide in my basement while my parents watch him. His routine does not change (unless he has an appointment) at all, but we do get that extra time together.
I’ll be starting a series on the 88 Creative blog, interviewing other working moms and checking out how their workplaces accommodate their needs as a parent. I’m the first mom at 88 Creative, so we’re wondering how we can improve on our parental policies and how others are doing it in the corporate/agency world.
If you’re a working mom (or dad) I’d love to chat about the struggle, the hustle and swap cute baby pics. Send me a quick email at firstname.lastname@example.org, and we’ll set something up!