Saturday, May 1, 2010

My life as a Working Mom

I have been back to work for 2 months, so of course I feel qualified to share my thoughts on being a working mom. But seriously, these past 2 months have had their ups and downs and I'd like you guys to know what I've learned:

1. Thinking about going back to work can be worse than actually going back to work. I used to physically shake when I thought about going back to work. I thought "I can't do this" and "No one will be able to watch my kids like I do" and even though I still have those thoughts, the world did not end when I went back to work. I wish I would not have gotten myself so worked up about it before I went back.

2. Its ok if you do not think of your kids every second you are away. The first couple days back, I would get this overwhelming guilt when I realized an hour went by and I had "forgotten" about Emma and Joshua. It might be in a meeting or on one of my appointments but they would leave my mind and when I thought of them again, I would think "Im such a bad mom, they should always be on my mind" The truth is that not thinking of them every moment is part of the survival mode. Its what you need to do to get through the day. For me, I look for every opportunity to talk about my kids but I am recognizing that its ok to not talk about them, too.

3. It won't be easy, but you can continue pumping.
I can't tell you how many times I wanted to give up during the first couple weeks back at work. Now, I am confident I can make it to 6 months without a problem. If you are pumping at work and need support, let me know. I can send you weekly "You can do it" emails and we can trade stories about pumping in a small conference room when you can hear people outside the door saying "What the heck is that noise?!"

4. Find one special moment to have with your kids every day.
Right now, my special moment with E&J is when we play "Cuddlebunnies" (I don't know how or when but I made up that name) Once I get them home, I unpack them from their carseats and put them in our bed. And for 5 minutes, I just lay with them. Sometimes I sing, sometimes I hold toys out for them, but mostly I just spend time kissing and cuddling with them. Im telling you, I look forward to those 5 minutes all day.

5. Schedule, schedule, schedule.
I know I have posted about this before but I can truly say that having a schedule makes working possible for me. The day is still hectic and very full of things to do but it all gets done. At the end of the day, I can put my head down on the pillow and know that I get (most) everything done.

6. Things will never be the same when you go back to work. This goes for everything. Your house, your outfit, your relationships, your actual job. Dan and I had a week where we ate fish sticks every night. Fish sticks. Honestly, Im not sure if either of us like fish sticks. But I didn't have time to go to the grocery store so we ate them. One day, I got to my first appointment and noticed I still smelled spit up. I looked in my mirror and had dried puke in my hair. And I used to work as often as I could and if there was a chance to work on the weekend to make extra money, I always jumped at it. Now, I would rather lay on the floor with E&J. But thats how it is. Life is never the same.

7. The guilt lessens but it is always there. Some days its not as bad as others but I still get a pang of guilt when I pick up E&J each day. They always look so happy and content and there is still part of me that wishes I was the one to be with them all day, ever day. I would imagine the guilt never fully goes away.

So thats what I've learned. I guess overall, the biggest thing I have learned is that you can be an amazing mom and work. It does not have to be one or the other. Will I be a working mom forever? Time will tell. But for now, its working out for us.


Amy said...

great advice Shannon! and shout outs for having a positive (mostly!) experience with pumping at work. we mom's can do anything we put our minds to!

Shanny said...

Wow this was great to read. You are awesome for sharing it. I love "cuddlebunnies" though I'm sure not as much as you do when you spend that time with E&J.
And don't worry when I get to that point I'll be bugging you for more advice =)

Em said...

Thanks for the tips! I've been back at work for almost a year (it will be a year next week), and some days it's still really hard to be away from my son. It helps to know other moms feel the same way.

Maria said...

Great blog! It sure is difficult returning work. The guilt doesn't seem to go away, that's for sure. It's helpful to know other moms feel the same way about their situation.

Julia said...

Confidence in numbers, so good to hear you say everything I've been feeling. It helps me realize I'm not crazy!

Kristin (kekis) said...

Yet more reasons why I love you! If/when we get to have children, I will have to work. I'll be sure to contact you to have you go over this with me again & again.

Licia said...

Thanks for sharing your experiences. I found myself having a lot of the same feelings and experiences you had upon returning to work. My youngest is now 1 and I stopped nursing a month ago but I sure wish I'd had supportive emails through the pumping phase.

Megan said...

You are an amazing mom, don't ever let any part of your mind say ANYTHING otherwise. You inspire me in SO many ways!

osuraj said...

Good post-question, how many times a day do you pump at work? I'm trying to figure out what my schedule will be related to that when I go back in 2 weeks!

joetroyer said...

Nice blog.and you have given great advice in this blog.