NO DUH. That’s probably what anyone who reads this line would think. It’s what I have believed about mothers who work my entire life. But when it came to how I viewed myself … It’s a statement I’m only now, after two years, finally, truly believing.
A few days ago my husband and I sat and reminisced over the time between having our daughter and me going back to work. It almost doesn’t seem like it ever happened. It’s hard remembering how small she was to hold. Spending the entire day with her… Mostly at home, not working.
… Not working. That isn’t exactly right. Of course I was working but not working in the 9-5 sense. It’s a dividing line many mothers straddle while they’re on maternity leave (or before). The decision so many women battle with as they transition from “just career” to parenthood.
Nothing could have prepared me for what I was about to experience–about to feel.
Those days at home with my daughter were so precious. And going back to work was hard. I missed her so badly, and I went to visit her almost every day during my break. The only thing that made it bearable for me was the fact that my husband was at home with her.
As we sat as remembered that time I asked him the same question I used to ask when I’d come home “so, what did you guys do all day?” He recalled their routine: breakfast, morning walks, sports television, music, lunch, naptime/studying, snack, afternoon walks, and lots of playing.
There was a time I envied him for all the time he got to spend with her, but I focused on how lucky I was to have HIM spend time with her. How many dads get that chance? And if not me, who better to be with her?
Then my husband got a new job, and the next step was finding and starting a daycare, and this may have even been harder than returning to work when she was 12 weeks old. She was 13 months old, but for the first time, she wouldn’t be in our care. After tears for weeks (on both our parts), we fell into a new routine. But this didn’t keep me from feeling guilty for working. Deep down I still wondered if I was less of a mom.
Now, two years after this all started, I’m finally, feeling truly happy, and grateful for my situation.
My husband brought Lil’ J to my station last weekend and he called me on his way.
“Listen to this” he told me. “Where do you want to go?” he hollered back to Lil’ J in the back seat.
“Mommy’s work,” she yelled back.
“Did you hear that?” he asked me.
I did, and I was so proud.
This month, on weekends, my husband and I are like two ships passing in the night. I’m getting ready for work as he’s getting home and undressing for bed at close to 4am. Then in the afternoon, when I’m finishing my shift and he’s heading back in to work, he brings her to my job and we trade off. Now when she walks in she’s all smiles, screaming “BYE DADDY!” and “Hi Mommy’s work!” to all of my coworkers.
She has a routine down where she buys a snack from the vending machine then sits on the interview set watching me while I read my last few stories with the evening anchor.
Usually she’s playing with her Elmo ABC’s app on my iPad, and occasionally yelling “I did it mommy! I did it!” And sometimes when we’re delayed because of technical difficulties, she too gets a shot at sitting in the anchor chair.
My heart swells when she points to the TV when she sees me and says “Mommy on TV!” and “News!”
She’s only two but I can tell already that she knows what I do, and what her daddy does. And she’s so proud (especially of her daddy).
She doesn’t know any different than the situation she has. School is a part of her life, as is my job. I love that she gets the chance to see what I do, and someday I think she’ll really appreciate it. I try to involve her in my career as much as I can. I’m not only her mother who’s there for fun times and photo shoots, I’m showing her dreams come true with hard work… Career, family, all of the above.
I, like most moms put a lot of pressure on myself. But the great thing about kids is they love you no matter what.