Working while the kiddo is sick…

Today was kind of a tough one for me. Yesterday I got to stay home with Miss A while she was sick. Yesterday she woke up running a fever with a bad cough, so we stayed home and watched movies and ate soup and snuggled. She usually bounces back quickly, so I was kind of surprised when she was still sick today. I only have one sick day left until August, so in the interest of saving it, Mr. Dad took over and stayed home.

So naturally, being a mom, I worried about Miss A all day.

She was fine. When I walked in the door she shouted, “Mommy! You’re home!” Would you believe I actually got a hug and a kiss? TWO kisses? She is normally so reserved with her affection that I was really pleasantly surprised.

It’s not that I don’t trust Mr. Dad to take care of her…quite the contrary, he’s really quite an awesome dad and I wouldn’t trust her with anyone else. It’s just the feeling that I wasn’t fully there for her that left me feeling kind of sad. She’s doing much better…running a low fever and still has a cough but better. (The after hours pediatrician is getting a call tomorrow if she’s STILL feverish, though!) They had a great day together, evidenced by the arts and crafts supplies strewn about the house and the mountain of toys and books we cleaned up before bedtime.

It’s just that mom guilt. She hardly ever gets sick, and this was the first time I’ve had to be at work while she was home sick. And it was tough to be away from her.

My poor sick baby, sleeping, being comforted by Mindy. From my day at home with her.

 

Oops, I caught the mom guilt

This weekend at church, the main topic of discussion was about regrets, and the “what ifs” and “so whats” of our lives, and one thing that the speaker said really hit home. She said, “Parenthood is a crash course in guilt.” When she said this, I chuckled, because for all of the good intentions, all of the research and debating and positive thinking, as a parent you always worry, “Was it the right decision?” or “Did I do the best I could?”

Today is a great example. I am home today. All day, the house was silent. Why? Both Mr. Dad and Miss A were not home. He went to work, and I dropped her off at daycare this morning. I took today to get caught up on some other responsibilities in my life, mainly homework, but to be honest, I spent a bigger part of the day just taking a breather. I can’t remember the last time I was home alone for an extended period of time. It may have been before she was born. It was nice. I decompressed, decluttered my brain and in that sense, I feel amazing.

So why do I feel so guilty about it? When I left her at day care this morning I felt overwhelmingly guilty, like I should be keeping her at home with me since I’m home and all. But on the other hand, I really needed a day alone to take care of some other things and just breathe, separated from the daily comings and goings, work, daycare, grocery shopping, errands, and so on.

Then, when I talked with Mr. Dad about how I felt, he said to me, “So should I feel guilty that I would take the baby to daycare so that I can have a day to myself?” And of course the answer is no.

I think we as parents tend to forget about ourselves. Our natural inclination is to put our children first, and, of course, that’s how it should be. We forget, though, that part of putting our children first is making sure that we take care of ourselves. Happy parents have happy children.

Miss A was no worse for wear today because I took her to daycare. She had been out for a week already and was so thrilled to be back with her friends…and then so thrilled to be reunited with me at the end of the day. So, while I still feel a little guilty about it, all in all, I know I did a good thing for both of us.

The End of Maternity Leave

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.

What I Love About Being a Working Mom

I’ve just returned to work after having a week off, and I have to admit, in spite of the fact that we moved, and Miss A went to daycare for a couple of days that week so we could move, I thoroughly enjoyed my week of being a “stay at home mom”.

That’s not to say I lamented returning to work this morning. While the idea of being a stay at home mom sounds really great, the reality of it is probably much different. It’s one of those, “the grass is always greener” situations.

While there are definite benefits to both sides of the stay at home/working mom fence, and neither one is better than the other (I think that stay at home moms are also working moms who just happen to be underpaid!), I have to say that, while I love being home with my daughter, I also love being a working mom and wouldn’t change that arrangement.

I started thinking today all the things I love about being a working mom (that’s not to say that some of these can’t apply to stay at home moms though). Here’s a few of my own – feel free to comment and share yours!

    • Contributing to the family income.

 

    • Maintaining a “me” identity (other than “wife” and “mom”).

 

    • Adult interaction for the win!

 

    • The look on my daughter’s face when I pick her up from daycare.

 

    • Making the best of each moment together because I know our time is short.

 

    • Feeling productive and fulfilled (though being a mom is more fulfilling than anything).

 

    • Seeing the “friendships” my daughter has made (as much as a 13-month old can make friends).

 

    • Setting the example for my daughter that it is possible to balance a happy work life and a happy family life.

 

Petition to End Working Mom Guilt

I’ve read a lot of mommy blogs lately about the guilt surrounding being a working mom. Having been there myself when I first returned to work after Miss A was born, I understand why it happens. You return to work, people ask you why, they ask you how you can stand leaving your child to be “raised by someone else” (ugh), why doesn’t your husband earn enough that you can stay home, or worst of all, why are you so selfish that you want to return to work (yes, selfish for wanting to provide for your family).

I say – enough! I say we end this guilt! We as moms (and face it, even stay at home moms are still truly working moms at heart) get enough criticism and ridicule regardless of our parenting choices. I refuse to continue feeling guilty for being a working mom – a “choice” that I felt was best for both me and my family. (I place choice in quotations because in many cases, it’s not a choice, it’s a necessity.)

Besides, would anyone say these things to a father who “chose” to return to work? (I’m sure that men get even more flack for being “stay at home dads” than men who “choose” to return to work).

Anyone else with me?

It’s Take Your Sons and Daughters to Work Day…

…and the halls here are filled with the sound of silence.

I considered packing up my almost-11 month old and bringing her with me this morning, but alas, it was “Rock Star” day at daycare, and she was dressed the part, so off she went to school while I went to work.

When I was growing up, today was known as “Take your daughter to work day” and the day was used to introduce girls to a variety of careers. Today, parents of sons and daughters can bring their children to work thanks to changes in the program.

I remember growing up, going to work with my dad a few times and how much fun it was. When I was in school, my dream was to be a computer programmer (and a singer and an actress but then I grew up and became more realistic). My dad worked in this industry, so going with him was beneficial to me. I got a feel for what the workplace in this industry was like, and got to know the part of my dad that existed outside of the house.

Ultimately my career path took a very different direction…I got my degree in computer programming but decided it was very much not for me. But I am grateful, in retrospect, to have had that opportunity.

In a few years, when my daughter is old enough, hopefully she will want to see what mom and/or dad are like in the office.

Other parents out there – did you bring your children to work with you today? How was it?

New UK Law Promotes Flexible Work Schedules

As reported by Web Worker Daily, a new law in the UK allows workers to request flexible work schedules.

I wonder how long before something like this is implemented in the United States? With the current regulations on maternity leave and the state of the economy, a flexible environment like what is being offered in the UK would be beneficial to not just parents, but businesses as well.

Today found this mom working from home while tending to a baby with a fat lip following the morning from hell. See, my 10 1/2 month old daughter is now walking…but still very clumsy. We were at the hospital getting a CT scan done on her (she’s got a cyst on her eye that needs to be removed so the CT scan was to get imaging on that), and she’s running around the waiting room, seeing how fast she can go when…splat, mouth-first into the floor. Tears, screaming, blood and swelling followed. What better place for this to happen than at a hospital, right? She’s fine now (I worked from home to keep an eye on her as a precaution). Our problems are minor and acute, but with this situation and the baby’s impending eye surgery (as well as a surgery of my own in the near future), medical problems are always very stressful. I’m fortunate to have the option to work remotely on occasion, but I have an appreciation for the struggle faced by parents whose children have chronic medical problems, who need to work in order to keep insurance or pay for medical costs, and do not have the option to work remotely. But if we had a policy in place in the US similar to what’s being done in the UK, it would be one less stressor on families whose lives are already stressful enough.

What do you think? Would broad-scale flexible work legislation be beneficial in the US?

Miss A Goes to Daycare!

Today is Miss A’s first day at daycare, and for her, it went off without a hitch. No cries, no fussing, she just took it all in stride. We got there and she just sat in the bouncer looking around, taking it all in. There was a little girl there named Rhiannon who is probably about 9 months (maybe younger, who knows…she looked small, but she was crawling and pulling herself to standing which usually doesn’t happen until they’re 9 months or older) who kept coming over to Angelica and poking at her and checking her out. Yeah, I think she’s gonna make some friends there. (Including the cute little girl whose mommy referred us!)

Unfortunately for Mommy (me)…in true “me: fashion, I forgot something. Something vital.

Yes, folks, I took my daughter for an all day adventure at daycare and forgot her formula at home. I had nothing with me – no bottles, no formula, no formula mix, not even a cup. So after dropping her off, I ran over to CVS to buy bottles and formula to get her through the day. The bottles I got were the only ones they had that were small enough for Miss A, but they were also a brand I never used before so I sure hope they work out okay!

When I got back she was just swinging back and forth in the swing looking around, seemingly unaffected by the fact that I was leaving her in a strange new place with strange new people. She didn’t even react when I was trying to give her a hug and kiss goodbye…it was like she was saying “Go away, Mommy, I’m checking out all this cool new stuff!”

I was more of a wreck than she was! (And so was her Daddy.)

So, here’s hoping that the rest of the daycare trips go just as smoothly!

Completely unrelated, but Michelle Obama’s speech last night really resonated with me, and maybe it’s the hormones, or maybe it’s that I finally “get” it now that I’m a mom, but this part really got to me and brought tears to my eyes:

And in the end, after all that’s happened these past 19 months, the Barack Obama I know today is the same man I fell in love with 19 years ago. He’s the same man who drove me and our new baby daughter home from the hospital ten years ago this summer, inching along at a snail’s pace, peering anxiously at us in the rearview mirror, feeling the whole weight of her future in his hands, determined to give her everything he’d struggled so hard for himself, determined to give her what he never had: the affirming embrace of a father’s love.

And as I tuck that little girl and her little sister into bed at night, I think about how one day, they’ll have families of their own. And one day, they – and your sons and daughters – will tell their own children about what we did together in this election. They’ll tell them how this time, we listened to our hopes, instead of our fears. How this time, we decided to stop doubting and to start dreaming. How this time, in this great country – where a girl from the South Side of Chicago can go to college and law school, and the son of a single mother from Hawaii can go all the way to the White House – we committed ourselves to building the world as it should be.

If she was trying to tug at the heartstrings of family-oriented people everywhere, I think she succeeded.

I Survived the Return to Work…

So far, we’ve survived the first few days of being back at work. I won’t lie and say it’s been easy. It’s probably been the most difficult thing I’ve ever had to do, to have been with Miss A day and in and day out over most of the past year (while I was pregnant and on maternity leave). I think we’re transitioning okay. She’s been hanging out with her Grandma Tammy this week and seems to be loving it, and it makes me feel good to know she’s in good hands.

This morning was a good morning. It started off with her dad getting up with her around 5:30 or 6…then right before 7 she woke up again, letting out a huge shriek that scared the crap out of me. As soon as I picked her up, she quieted right down though, and we snuggled in bed for about an hour. That’s probably my most favorite thing to do, and trust me, the rest of the day can only go down from there.