Guest Post! “Ready or not: Working Mommy it is”
Bio Blurb and Blog Summary: Sarah lives in the mid-west with her husband of four-and-a-half-years and their five-month old baby girl Lucia (Loo-sha) Chamberlin. She has spent the past five months home with her daughter and in one week will return to work as an American Literature teacher to high school juniors. She has been blogging since 2005, but with the introduction of motherhood also came the mommy blog transformation. Joyfullygray captures snipits of everyday life with her family.
Ready or not: Working Mommy it is
In the beginning the days were of sweat pants, breast pads, chills, nursing, more nursing and of shock that the conclusion of my birth story had been written. Yes, just like that, the chapter of my first pregnancy closed. My pregnancy, like the build up to Christmas morning, was gone in a flash. Excitement abound! And then it was over.
In the beginning there were some raging hormones, some baby blues, some highs and lows, some tears and joy. And more chills. Brrr! I was freezing during those early days, and the milk spilling from my chest, while briefly tepid, quickly turned sub-zero, only to make matters far wintrier.
In the beginning there was a constant reality check: my baby was out of my body—my body where she had been safely tucked for the last 41 weeks. Now she was on the outside. On the outside where I had to keep her safe, where I was responsible for her well being, where any diaper rash was a reflection of my poor mothering skills and where scabs on my bleeding nipples and bright red stretch marks were my badge of honor.
In the beginning there was finally a sense of calm, of amazement, shear awe, even bliss. Oh yeah, and that one thing: True Love.
This true love that I encountered brought on occasional thoughts of maternity leave: that it would someday end, that I would someday return to my teaching gig. Admittedly, there were some break downs. Oh yes! Blubbering-cry-like-a-sobbing-lunatic-break-downs.
Breakdowns where I would call my [then] pregnant best friend and scare her to death, making her swear to her husband that she would not be a post-pregnancy mess like me.
And there were more breakdowns where I would call my mother and sob, making her promise me that it would be okay, that everything would be okay.
And more breakdowns where I would make my husband feel like absolute shit because I could not quite yet be a stay at home mom. Where I would make him feel guilt and sorrow about something he could not control. And it was unfair, unfair because he is a good man, a good provider, a smart, hard-working, will-bust-my-ass-for-this-family-kind-of-man.
And one day it ended. It had to end. Self-pity and loathing is no way to live. It was no way to experience life with my new child. The people around me just weren’t having it anymore. My mother put her foot down, told me to stop fretting over the future and start enjoying the now.
Enjoying the now, what a novel idea.
And then I put on my big-girl pants and sucked it the hell up.
Thoughts of maternity leave left my brain. I was just living life—an oath to live day by day, enjoying the now, with my little bundle of joy.
The days were of long naps, gazing into each others’ eyes, talking and sharing, learning about each other. Good days, full days, the best days—the best days of my life.
That was March—that was March, April, May, June, and July.
March made August feel like a century away.
At least five months away. And that was supposed to be enough time.
But now, as I write, it is August—August and 14 days away from going back to work. And guess what? It was not enough time. But it was our time, our gift that I am ever-so-grateful to have been given.
And, as we mothers know, all sidewalks end, all chapters close and new ones begin.
And so mine is.
After five-months of maternity leave, again, I will be putting on my big girl pants. I will be sucking it up and heading back—back to work. And I consider myself one of the lucky ones—one of the lucky mothers to have had five whole months. No, no more will I have entire days, entire twenty-four hour periods with my child, but I will take what I can get, I will be grateful and I will make every second count.
Lucia and I have had many talks about the impending change. I’ve told her, with tears rolling down my cheeks, about the things we will be doing differently. I’ve promised her that we will still nap and nurse, still cuddle and giggle—we will make time for our favorite things. I’ve explained to her that it has to happen because it is what works best for our family financially, it is what helps give her her daily breast milk, it is what helps put money away for her college education, future piano lessons, ballet classes, or whatever her flavor may be. It is what is—and sometimes what is might be a hard pill to swallow.
I tell her these things and she giggles and coos at me, somehow letting me know that she will be all right—somehow telling me that it is me that will hurt and ache inside.
But remember, I am sucking it up. I am putting on my big girl pants and I will rise to the occasion. I will because, like my mother says, I always do.
It helps that my husband is so supportive. He knows what a difficult task lays in front of me. He knows and he cares. He has also told me that I am different now—that I am stronger since pregnancy and child birth, that he knows I can do anything.
He is right.
I am a strong mommy. And I am about to be a strong working mommy. Fortunately for me, I do not work the typical eight to five; and, I have the cushion of autumn, winter, spring and summer breaks. I can enjoy the best of both worlds: work long enough that I yearn to stay at home with my daughter, and be home long enough that I need to get out a bit. Lucia too will have the best of both worlds: some socialization with other young children and lots of mommy time as well.
I plan to continue breastfeeding when I return to the grind. The pump and I are not yet too great of friends, but we are working on our relationship. I try to spend time with her once a day, providing bottles of thick goodness for daddy to give Lucia from time to time. I’ll admit, it has been difficult working the pump into my full-time nursing schedule, but I’ve felt the need to stock-pile my milk. I know when I am away from baby, pumping will be more of a necessity, so I am hoping my relationship with the good old Medela will flourish. I am sure it will, because just like myself, my boobs will too rise to the occasion.
I’ve also come to realize that with my return to work, the house may not always be perfect, which is something my OCD self will have to face. Saturdays will not be entirely dedicated to cleaning because it will not be the most important thing. Full days at home with Lucia will be a luxury and thou shall not waste. Organization will be of the essence, the completion of small-tasks a miracle. And, then, fortunately for our household, my husband has been doing our laundry since day one, so there will always be clean skivvies and fresh towels. He also likes to cook, lucky us! We will be a unit. Our chores completed with a tag-team effort. I take on the toilet; he’ll take on the dog hair. Scratch that. We will go for a walk with our family, venture to the park or read a story together. Because life won’t wait, it will fly by like these months already have. We will rise to the occasion and meet life face to face! Forgo the scrubbing mandates!
Another something that has helped ease my aching working mommy heart is that I found a wonderful caregiver. I interviewed many home daycare providers and visited many centers as well. Nothing floated my boat. Until one day, I saw her, I met the children she cared for, I watched her work all morning, and I knew—I just knew she was the one. It was that gut feeling, my maternal instinct rising to the occasion.
Learning the ropes of being a working mom will not be easy, but at this time it is necessary. And we, my family and I, will make it work—we will rise to the occasion.