Many people have asked me how life has settled since returning back to work three weeks ago. Most wonder if it is more difficult to leave home after having your second child and many want to know if it’s possible to be productive at work when your baby still isn’t sleeping through the night — and neither are you. (The short answer is yes, and yes.)
There are many moms who feel relieved when their maternity leave has expired and excitedly wait to once again get out of the home and intellectually interact with adults. I am not one of those moms. Even on the bad days with skipped naps, whining kids and teething pains, I would much rather stay at home, clean poppy diapers, play pretend kitchen and watch Toy Story 2 for the thousandth time. It’s not that I dislike my job; it’s just that I love my kids more than my job and I genuinely feel fulfilled with spending time with them. But, so is life that I finally put on dress slacks and semi high-heeled shoes and drove along the congested D.C. traffic parting ways with my little ladies.
It is not all bad though. So let me share the good :
- For twenty-four weeks while at home, I rarely ate a meal in peace. I was usually sharing my food with my toddler or eating while simultaneously bouncing the baby on my knee. It is quite enjoyable to eat breakfast and lunch without being disturbed.
- Going to work means waking at 5:30am and showering, doing my hair, putting on some makeup and wearing more than my nighttime pajamas — all day! On work days my self-confidence is slightly boosted when I am reminded that pretty does exist somewhere beneath all those leftover maternity clothes.
- No one enjoys D.C. traffic. No one, I promise. However, the perk attached to my long commute is that I get to listen to whatever I want on the radio. Shoot, I don’t even need to listen to the radio if I don’t want to! I can sit in silence or better yet, I can call someone and talk for one hour uninterrupted!
- While at work I do not have to do the dishes, fold laundry, sweep the floors, clean the showers, or plan what I will do before, during, and after nap time.
- While home the baby was attached to my hip and breast — literally. My husband rarely held her. When pitching in it was easier for him to manage and care for our toddler. Since returning to work he has had alone time with the baby and has really started to bond with her. She genuinely has fallen in love with her daddy and perks up upon hearing his voice.
- Lastly, I am making money. My own money. I like my husband’s money too, don’t get me wrong. He is the bread winner here. However, it is nice to contribute and to have my own little pot of spending cash.
But with all the good, there of course is the bad. I wouldn’t be an honest working mom without sharing the toughest parts of returning to work:
- Every day I am away from my girls I physically yearn for them. For twenty-four weeks I was immersed in kisses and hugs all day, at my disposal. Even at the worst moment of exhaustion one of them would say or do something that would remind me why I love motherhood so much.
- I worry about my girls constantly. Are they being cared for to the best extent? Are they learning what I would be teaching them? Are they safe? I also worry about the decision I’ve made to return to work. _Am I doing the right thing? Do they truly need me home? Should I forgo the money and just find a way to make it work? _I constantly doubt myself.
- I am also not as present as I’d like to be. When home, I am many times still fielding work emails, dialing into teleconferences or trying to squeeze in household chores while giving my girls something to play with, rather than playing with them.
- And lastly, my marriage suffers. It’s the truth. When I have been gone all day and finally come home, my attention is directed to my kids. The “how was your day” conversation is barely heard through the “mommy hug me” and “mommy look at this” requests. After my children’s needs are met I am quickly off maintaining the home — doing the laundry I barely have time for, and sweeping the floors that have collected thrown food and play dough. My husband’s rank has lowered below babies and dirty dishes.
We all make choices — some because we have to, others because we want to. Transitioning back to work was not as difficult this time for me because the anticipation no longer existed. I knew the anguish I would feel inside, I knew the tears I would shed the first morning back. I just kept reminding myself that I am giving them something for their future: A savings account, a college fund and a female role model that tries to best depict what balancing it all looks like. This doesn’t mean that there won’t come a time when I decide to take a break and focus solely on my family; it just means that the time is not now and so I move forward each day racing to get home so I can be hugged, kissed, and reminded how much I was missed throughout the day.
Did you have highs and lows after returning to work? Share!