REAL TALK | Being a Working Parent
I think I could say with great confidence that most people who have known me for more than half of my life would have never believed I would be a mom. I never sought that life for myself. I always saw myself as a relatively self-involved person who didn't have the capacity to care for another person in a way they deserved, especially given the fact as I got older I saw how many women and families struggled with infertility and wanted a baby so desperately. On the exterior, it was easy for me to play the part -- I just didn't want kids. I wanted to be me. But on the inside... I felt completely inadequate and unable to be a mom. And now, I absolutely hate the fact that I am a working parent and am away from my son all day.
My son's first weeks on earth were not easy on my husband and me. He was a very colicky baby -- there wasn't a time of day that he didn't scream, cry and we would find ourselves unable to calm our baby. It wasn't until I was nearing the end of my maternity leave and having to go back to work that I found myself desperately looking for a way to be home. I became scared to miss the "firsts". I felt like by going to work I would be losing a huge part of who I was -- and that people would judge me for being a working mom and leaving my baby at home. Now, once a woman who felt as if she was unable to be "mom" was sulking in her room at night feeling ill-equipped to fill the role of "working mom". It was not an easy transition for me. I was fortunate enough to live within five minutes from my job, so I was able to go home on my lunch breaks and see him... usually he was sleeping. But watching him sleep was just as priceless to me. I was also blessed to have a sister who came to my home to watch him every day throughout the week. She would post pictures and videos on social media for me to see, and I felt like I truly wasn't missing anything. I don't know that she will ever know how much that meant to me, especially in the first year of his life.
Having kids and being a working parent can do a lot of things to parents... emotionally, physically, etc. It is incredibly difficult to go to work and come home and be "on". I no sooner walk in the door, my son is grabbing my hand to go play games, race cars or watch another episode of Wild Kratts on PBS Kids. I treasure those moments and wish I was less exhausted so I could truly be present for him. I take solace in knowing that HE knows mommy loves him and wants to spend all the time I can with him. Sometimes, just me being there seems to be enough for him even though I find myself feeling guilty.
In about a month, he goes off to his first year of school -- pre-school. It will be a new phase in our lives, but we are SO excited for the transition. I don't know that I will ever be able to "forgive" myself for not working harder to stay home with my son before he went to school, but I am working hard to make sure I can find a way to give myself grace.