Updated: Feb 17
As soon as I found out I was pregnant with our first child I downloaded every pregnancy app and followed every social media group linked to motherhood and first time moms. I wanted to embrace this new journey whole heartedly and was interested in the "what to expect" along the way checkpoints and discussion boards.
It was in these discussion boards that I learned there’s no shortage of opinions when it comes to parenting. For my husband and I, there was never any question if/when I would be returning to work. I would complete the allocated time given for maternity leave and we would then brainstorm a plan of action for childcare. I currently work in higher education and completed graduate school in 2013. When I pictured having a family I would think, I can’t waste all the years of schooling and give up on my career.
When I was growing up, I had a stay at home mom who raised me. I see the dynamic I have with my mom and the memories we shared which I want for my daughter. Being raised by a stay at home mom offered me security and stability. I had flexibility of play dates with other kid’s to enhance social skills and I was able to participate in extracurricular activities and sports. Most of my friend’s parents found comfort with my mother being a stay at home mom and my home was always filled with kids and laughter. Unbeknownst to them at the time this would benefit my parents who never had to worry about where I was or who I was with or what shenanigans were taking place. In later years my mom was able to re-enter the workforce when I was old enough to attend school.
While I was on maternity leave I tried to embrace every moment I had with my daughter. It was difficult initially to find my balance with her in this world. Going back to the discussion boards, I would read articles about newborns and the ease of caring for them as they – eat, sleep and poop. In my case this was far from the truth. My child, like many had a "witching hour", gas pains and never wanted to sleep. We would spend hours walking, comforting and tackling the dreaded hiccups. Each day was a new lesson learned. Newborns are truly a puzzle and navigating each day felt like I was always missing pieces.
As I neared the end of maternity leave there were many moments where I thought to myself, I haven’t had enough time with her and the thought of missing any milestone would leave me with a stomach ache. Let me tell you that mom guilt is a REAL thing. I am lucky to work for an institution that has allowed me to work remote during COVID and this has given me extra time to grow in motherhood and enhance my relationship with my daughter. The extended time home has allowed us to find our groove together.
Discussion postings always seem to drive readers to one side of the argument and stereotype the categorization of "working" or "stay at home" mom. If you are an educated, smart and driven individual who decides to put your career on pause, reduce hours or conclude your career for the time being in order to meet the needs of your family and raise your children...you are amazing. Education is not wasted it is unwavering. There can be interruptions – that is LIFE. If you are a mom that finds independence, strength and growth in working...up too are amazing. Find your families groove and what works for you.
I am a full-time working mother and I think that not only benefits me personally but it benefits my husband and my daughter. By keeping my career and caring for my child, I have learned how to multitask more effectively, communicate more openly and embrace the moments together more efficiently. I found what works for us (in this moment). Every family is different and every mother has different wants and needs. The love and commitment you have to your children make the decision whether it be working or staying at home, the right one.