One year ago today, I returned to work after a seven-week maternity leave. Miss A went to daycare for the first time four weeks later, when Mr. Dad’s paternity leave ended. (No, his leave didn’t last longer…he just saved his for when I returned to work so Miss A could stay home longer.) It’s a strange thing to reflect on.
A year ago today I was still in the process of learning how to be a mom. On top of that, I had to learn how to be a working mom. My own mother was a stay at home mom, so I had no frame of reference to reflect on. It was a challenging thing, returning to work and having family members and friends who stayed home with their children saying, “I don’t know how you can stand to work/have someone else raise your child/be away from home/miss out on all the milestones/be so selfish/etc!” (This is the flip side to the idea that stay at home moms watch TV and eat bon-bons and play all day – definitely not true.) The truth is, in my younger years I had always envisioned myself staying at home with my children, and words like that made me feel extremely guilty about working.
Fast forward to today, I know in my heart I could never be a stay at home mom. I love being a working parent for many reasons. Today I don’t carry that same guilt that I did a year ago. I know what I’m doing is best for my family – not just for me, but for all three of us. I’ve also since added the task of completing my masters degree on top of all of it. It is a juggling act, balancing the responsibilities of deadlines, doctors appointments, assignments, readings, tests, chores (we don’t have a cleaning lady) and more but my life is full, and all three members of this family are happy with the situation. (This is not to say that stay at home moms don’t juggle responsibilities – we know you do too!)
So today, I dropped Miss A off at daycare and kissed her on the head, like I always do. She looked up, smiled and waved to me and said “byeee!”. I got into my car and went to work. And I didn’t feel bad about a thing.