I am a working mom of an infant.
I typed that into some popular social media sites and didn’t get much other than info about increasing your milk supply. Probably because when you’re a working mom of an infant you don’t have a lot of time to be randomly internet-ing.
Everyone’s situation is unique. For our family, I stayed home with her for the first three months, and then my husband used his paternity leave (along with vacation) to stay at home with her for another almost-three months. As luck would have it, I transitioned to a new job at the same time he was transiting back to work, so between the two of us, her first official full day of preschool wasn’t until her six-month birthday.
The hardest…HARDEST…part of returning to work was actually going through the week leading up to returning to work.
There were plenty of tears, self-doubt, fears (both rational and irrational), with a full blown anxiety attack the night before I returned. And by anxiety attack I mean me, facing the wall, nails clinging to the paint, forcing myself to take deep breaths.
It was earlier that day that I was talking to my mom, morosely saying that this was my last day with her. She kindly reminded me that no, this was not my last day… I had many more days to look forward to, and that this was simply me returning to a world that included other things that I enjoyed and loved. The only difference would be that now the best part of my day would be coming home.
The next day… the first day back… was easier than I thought, with the exception of her refusing to eat.
It was heartbreaking when my (frazzled, already-over-it) husband called and I could hear her crying and sniffling. And then when we Facetimed it was even worse – I could see her nuzzling my robe, searching for Mommy-boobie. Sigh. It took every ounce of self-preservation to not get in the car and drive home.
The point is that it turned out okay. She adjusted. We all adjusted. And now my husband is back at work and she’s in daycare and I started a new job and we’re all adjusting to that too.
You can be a working mom of an infant. And even if you have a job that you love or even just really, really like, you can still not want to go back to work when that day arrives. It’s totally normal.
I don’t know if I have any words of wisdom yet. But I can summarize a few feelings I’ve had over the last few months…
- It’s normal to love what you do for a living, and still not want to leave your child and go back to work.
- It’s normal to love your child dearly and be totally okay not being at home all day.
- It’s normal to wonder at 4 AM how you are going to get through the day.
- It’s normal to wonder at 10 PM how you are going to get through tomorrow.
- It’s normal to leave your child with someone when they are melting down, and feel a little guilty for leaving, but still at the same time secretly relieved that you don’t have to deal with this particular crisis.
- It’s normal to be happy to be with your baby at the end of the day, but still kind of wishing that it was time to put them down for sleep so that you can finally collapse on the couch and eat your dinner.
Does it get easier?
I think some things get easier, some things get harder, and other things you just get so used to that you kind of forget how impossibly difficult it seemed in the beginning. That is until you have a conversation with someone without kids, and you have a reality check of just how hard you are actually hustling.
I wouldn’t trade my daughter for anything. Not the Chanel purse I have always coveted (since the idea of spending that amount of money on anything other than daycare or a mortgage – which costs about the same – seems ludicrous right now). Not the mid-century ranch house my husband and I fantasize about owning (or any house for that matter). And not even for the lazy, wine-filled evenings I used to spend with friends (or, to be totally real, just myself and the TV). She is everything. My nugget. My Coco bean. My girlfriend. And maybe if I play my cards right, one day, far in the future, we’ll spend our afternoons shopping for Chanel purses and sitting in fancy bars drinking wine together.