One year ago today, I walked into back into my office to make my return from maternity leave. Thankfully, it was the first day my company moved into their new headquarters so everyone was a bit discombobulated. It made it slightly easier to deal with the awkward, crazy way I was feeling inside. Everything was the same, but I was a different person.
Now that I have a full year of working motherhood under my belt, I can honestly say that it feels like my new normal. So much so that I had to dig deep to remember how I was feeling last year at this time. I’ve realized the past few weeks that despite the fact that I felt like a completely different person when I returned to work, after time I’ve adapted and become an even better version of my previous self.
That’s not to say that in the beginning I did not struggle. It may have been my insecurity, but when I first returned to work it felt like I was not being taken as seriously. I was the new mom and I had to pass the test that I still lived up to my previous expectations before I was taken seriously. For Rich I feel it was the opposite and he was given more respect at work when he became a Dad. It was an interesting effect, but after proving myself both as a Mom and in the workplace I am confident that becoming a Mom has made me a better employee. Yes there are days when my lives bleed together and everyday I may take time from either in order to pull both jobs off, but in the end my job gets done- well.
As a working Mom I’ve found that remembering the example I’m setting for my son is the best motivation to work hard on the job. I was prepared to feel guilty and some days I feel the ping of guilt as I’m going about my day, but in my gut I know that continuing to pursue my career is the best choice for myself and for my family.
But, I do feel guilty. I often feel guilty that I drop Buel off early to daycare so that I can fit in my morning workout. I feel guilty when I forget items or paperwork to turn into his teachers. I feel guilty that I do not make all of his food from scratch and worry that we rush through our routines. I could go on, but I have learned to remind myself that worrying about these things is what makes me a good Mom. It’s never enough because I want to be the absolute best for my son and that’s how much I love him.
I’ve learned that the guilt I feel is no different than any other Mom’s guilt- we all feel it. There’s times that I felt guilty because I do not do “enough” as a Mom but we all feel this way. I have Mom friends in a variety of scenarios and pretty much that only thing that we all have in common is that we all have guilt to some extent that we could be doing things better. It’s called love.
Over the past year I’ve learned that preparation and flexibility are the keys to survival. I spent a lot of time over the past year focused on our routines and figuring out the best ways to manage our time. Every evening I pack our bags like we’re going on vacation, lay out our clothes and make sure meals are planned and ready to go. I constantly check our family calendar and my personal to-do list to keep our household running smoothly. I plan out my time meticulous and it allows me to fit in every priority in my week. It’s a lot of work but keeping us organized keeps us prepared for the daily challenges that will inevitably come our way.
As a Mom I’ve learned that it’s absolutely vital to make time for myself. No matter the situation, in order to be a good Mom you must have a full tank. It’s like the say, you must put on your own oxygen mask before tending to others. So I make time for myself every week. I get my errands done during my work from home day on Friday so that weekend nap times are my time to myself. I get manicures every two weeks on lunch. I work out in the mornings so I can get ready in peace. And when I need a break I have no qualms about asking for help.
One year later I wouldn’t consider myself a working Mom. I’m just myself. I’ve adapted and grown and now have a new role. And even though I felt completely different when I returned to work a year ago now the many aspects of my day are just who I am.