Going back to work is one of the most challenging decisions a mom can make, both financially and emotionally.
During the first few weeks alone with my newborn, I longed for the days when I went to work every morning, showered and dressed, and sat at a calm desk surrounded by fellow adults. “Hello, Dave,” I could wave to a friend on the street, smiling over a cup of hot coffee I’d purchased on my break. “Break,” I’d murmur to myself dreamily, huddled in the bathroom at home, the place of sanctuary mothers around the globe cling to for a few moments of peace and quiet. There are no breaks as a new mom; lunch is an afterthought as you use the precious moments your baby sleeps to accomplish some housework or get some sleep of your own.
Thankfully, after a few weeks, things started to get better. The baby started to sleep for longer periods and cry less, leaving more time to relax and get through the day. As the prospect of going back to work began to loom nearer, the reality of becoming a working mom hit me hard. How did I feel about putting my child in daycare? Could I really trust a stranger to care for my child? Could I afford to hire a full-time nanny? Would I be able to handle balancing work and still have the energy to spend with my baby at night?
Every woman’s answers to these questions are different. For me, the allure of the workplace is sweet. What a treat it would be to simply plug into a set of headphones and work interrupted for (gasp) several hours straight. I smile at the thought of having access to a pot of coffee I didn’t make myself and enjoying a full mug while it’s hot, instead of finding several half-sipped cups scattered around the house, forgotten as some other matter was attended to. However, the decision isn’t that simple. I used to think going back to work was a no-brainer. Stay-at-home mom? Pssh, not for me. But with circumstance, thoughts certainly change.
As my last weeks of full-time motherhood draw to a close, I’m still not sure what the right choice for me will be. But when I do finally resume my place in the workforce, like the millions of women before me, I’m sure I will manage to wear both hats with the style and confidence that goes along with the respected title of “working mom.”
This is the third of a series of posts offering a candid first-person depiction of motherhood in all its wonderful/horrible glory. Check out the introduction to the “Harder Than I Thought” series and part two, “This is Harder Than I Thought: Lactation or the Art of Milking One’s Self in Public.”