Going back to work after having a baby
can be IS tough. I remember taking my sweet boy to daycare at 10 weeks old. It felt like my heart was being ripped out of my chest and handed over to a stranger for 8 hours out of the day.
I started out only working part-time. I wanted to have a couple of days off a week to relish in my new love. I didn’t want to miss one second of my sons growth during the baby phase (which as I was warned, was over in the blink of an eye). And I certainly didn’t want to miss any of his baby to toddler milestones, no matter how big or small.
Oh, how I cherish our mommy-son days together.
Recently, I made the decision that it was time to go back to work full-time. My son is a year old now and, for me, it feels like the right time. I’ve always been an overly analytical person. Reserving logic for big decisions like this. However, that mentality can also cause me some grief…and by grief I mean guilt. Massive feelings of guilt. Guilt for leaving him in the care of someone else 5 days a week. Guilt for not being there to kiss every bump, every bruise. Guilt for not getting the chance to make up for the time I’ve missed because my poor boy is exhausted and crashes as soon as he gets home.
Ugh, the guilt. I get a little teary-eyed just thinking about it…
So, long story short. I’ve decided to kill the guilt and here’s why…
I’m happy when I’m working.
I’ve studied hard and paid my dues to be a nurse. When I’m at work I feel motivated. I have pride in what I do and my ability to help others. My days go by faster when I’m putting myself to good use. When I was staying at home, I’d find myself still in sweats at 1 in the afternoon, with overly dry shampooed hair and crusty boogers on my shoulder. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE my sweats. I’d wear them to work if I could. But, I get to wear scrubs to work too…and that’s pretty much the same thing.
I’m increasing my income.
This was my main motivation, the “no-brainer”, for going back to work full-time. Babies cost money. A lot of money. According to the Department of Agriculture raising a child costs an average of $14,000 a year. By going back to work I’m able to provide a better life and secure a brighter future for my family.
I get to talk to other adults.
I enjoy baby talking with my little guy and love hearing him ramble on and on in gibberish. But I must admit, it is really nice to have a conversation with someone who can say more than two-syllables. I haven’t quite mastered the separation between me and my mommy alter ego. It still takes some serious restraint from thinking or responding to someone in my new found “mommy” voice. (Which I recently used with the barista at Starbucks and received a look that would make you think I was speaking in tongues.)
I’m always excited.
At the end of a long day there is nothing better than picking up your child from daycare and seeing that beaming smile from across the room. My heart melts every time I’m greeted with a sloppy, I missed you kiss. I truly look forward to that part of my day. So much so, that I try to cheat at rock, paper, scissors every time my husband and I play to decide who gets to be the pick-up person in the evenings.
I’m more patient.
Now that my hours with my son are shorter during the week, I find that I’m giving even more of myself in the moments we share. I have more patience for tantrums, lost sleep and hangry cries. I’m better able to redirect his attention and find things to ease his mood. In all honesty, I think this has gotten easier for me because he is not as bored with me anymore. Before, daddy was the hero when returning home from work. Now I get to bask in that joy, too!
I get to be an individual.
At work I’m not mommy; I’m Lauren. I have an identity separate from my home life. It’s so important to maintain the parts of ourselves we valued before we had children. It’s also one of the hardest things to do. This transition has helped me make sure my pre-baby self is not forgotten.
Don’t get me wrong, I still have moments of feeling guilty. I still get a lingering sense of FOMO (fear of missing out). Who doesn’t? But, I’ve come to the conclusion that my guilt is better off dead. I have chosen to not let it hold me back and you should too. You’re a better mom when you’re a better YOU! Do what makes you happy. Do what you think is best for yourself and your family. Don’t let fear or guilt get in the way of being a successful professional and, more importantly, a successful parent.