So I'm a week into this working mom thing, and so far I am liking it (although I reserve my feminine right to change my mind at any time for any reason without informing you in advance). At points during my pregnancy and early in my maternity leave, I had all the usual concerns about returning to work. Would I get enough time with her? Would she forget me? Would I feel like somebody else was raising my child? Would I miss her too much during the day? And the ever important would I get enough sleep? What I am finding so far is that for me at least, most of these fears were unfounded.
All the financial reasons for returning to work aside, I really like my job. Sure there have been ups and downs, but in the past several months I feel like I have reached a very good place career wise. I have an ideal boss who promotes my career growth, provides me with an endless supply of interesting projects, and is happy to champion my work without micromanaging. As a Project Manager I get to work on exciting projects that I am not operationally responsible for. It is a relatively low-stress position with a lot of flexibility yet tons of exposure to all aspects of our organization. In other words it is a great job for learning and growth while also allowing to focus on my family. As a bonus, I feel like I am good at what I do and really enjoy my colleagues.
Being a stay-at-home mom sounds wonderful to me in concept. The problem is that I have a completely Martha Stewart-like vision of what I should be as a housewife, which is hopelessly unachievable for me especially without the structure that working outside my home provides. So in the end I get lazy or procrastinate, and then I beat myself up for having failed to meet my self-imposed expectations. I also miss adult interaction when I am at home. Of course I know that I could join groups or meet up with friends regularly, but to be honest I've never been very good in the whole making and maintaining friendships department. I think this comes as a surprise to those who know me, because I have a lot of friends and I am generally a very friendly person. However, I owe most of the friendships in my life to my husband as he is the one who happily invests the energy in chatting on the phone with folks and scheduling social events. Seriously, if it weren't for Jeramy, I would probably be a hermit. I do best with low maintenance friends who either don't mind a more casual relationship or are fine if they don't hear from me for weeks or months at a time.
My leave flew by quickly it seems like I never left. If it weren't for the frequent nighttime wakings (more on that later) or spending my mornings and evenings trading bottles of formula for the cutest smiles ever, it really would be the status quo. I do miss being with Jillian, but there have been no tears. Instead, I have been spending much of my time fielding requests for pictures and enthusiastically agreeing with colleagues that she is indeed the most adorable baby that ever lived. Plus I know that Jillian is quite happy to spend her days with her grandma who loves her very much and does a wonderful job in taking care of her. It is extremely reassuring to know that I can call whenever I want, and when I called today I could hear my little girl happily jabbering away and laughing in the background.
All of those fears of not spending time with her seem to be unfounded for the most part, and right now I am getting less time with her than I will after the move. Before the early mornings and evenings were the most trying times with Jillian, because I was exhausted from caring for her. But now I look forward to them, because after or before a long day at work there is nothing better than spending time with my smiling baby. So while I spend less time with her, I am better able to enjoy and appreciate the time I do have with her.
So overall I'd call my transition to working mom a success. I know that I'm in a bit of a honeymoon period right now and that there will be times that I will hate it. But there will be times that I would hate any arrangement that we could come up with. I just feel lucky that I like my job and have a great daytime care arrangement as those are really the elements that are making this whole thing work.