I Never Learned How to Juggle
It’s difficult having a full-time career and being a mother. Prior to planning to have my first child I hesitated for quite some time. I wanted my career to be established. My need for this before having my first child made me feel selfish. Once I got to the level of management I decided I was ready to have a child. Thank goodness my husband was a patient man! I felt as prepared as I could be for a little one to join our family.
Being pregnant at work is interesting. I experienced colleagues and managers pulling certain work away as to not overload the pregnant lady. I also experienced changes in the way people interacted with me. Some would fawn over me as if I was in dire straits, while others would avoid me. I took psychology in college which made me interested in how different people reacted to me. I think pregnant women make some people uncomfortable. Some just don’t quite seem to know how to act and thus some of my male colleagues kept their distance when I was pregnant.
The baby is born. Once you get through the initial zombie days of adjusting to very little sleep, you start to get through the fog. I found motherhood to be amazing and taxing. The growth of a little person that you helped create is awe inspiring. It is tough, but worth every second.
I love being a mother however I always knew I would return to work. Before going on maternity leave I told my boss that I would be off 3-6 months. Boy…was I not realistic. Some mothers would be ready at that time and some would not be. I personally was not ready to leave my baby yet. I ended up going back after 10 months. I would have stayed the full 12 months you get in Alberta however the person covering my maternity leave could only do a maximum of 10 months (she was already doing 4 more months than I had hired her for).
I had mixed feeling when I returned to work. Part of me felt guilty for leaving my baby. Luckily I had in-laws that were able to care for him. For the first month I drove home every day over lunch to feed him and spend some time with him. He always cried when I left, and usually so did I. It was a very overwhelming time. I decided not to go home over lunch anymore…even though I wanted to. It disrupted my son’s day too much, so it was better for me to stay away. It got easier as time went on. The other part of me felt satisfaction in being involved in the corporate world again. Engaging with teams and other managers, solving problems, and feeling needed in a different way. I felt like my old self again…well version 2.0. (working mommy).
Many people have differing opinions on working and being a parent. Opinions are great. Judgement is not. I’ve been judged as not being a good mother, because I chose to return to work. My opinion, choosing to have a family does not mean that a mother needs to give up her career…the future she may want. There are so many options for working parents now. If both parents want to work then they can make a decision on what is best for their family.
Talk of a second child began with my hubby and I around the same time I was told by my boss that I was in-line for a promotion. Exciting! Baby talk was put on hold. I didn’t want to miss this opportunity and my husband was supportive. I was in my mid-thirties, so time was ticking on the baby making clock. Time went on…the company underwent some changes and the promotion was no longer on the table. I waited for a year for a promised promotion that never came. I started a job at a new company and felt I couldn’t go on maternity leave right away, so again I delayed baby number 2 for another 6 months before it happened.
Giving notice to my new boss was tough. I felt guilty for getting pregnant…for inconveniencing the company. Funny how some mother’s put themselves through this. It took me days to get the ‘balls’ to tell him. When I did he was stunned. He kept himself together well enough, but was very quiet. I left feeling guilty. That evening I received an email from my boss saying he was sad that I would be going on leave, but very happy to hear that I would be having a baby. I was lucky to have such a good boss. It could have gone much worse.
I now have two children. I am still on maternity leave, but nearing the end. The familiar feeling of guilt is returning. One child will be in preschool; however my little one will need to be left in the hands of someone else. Will I miss his first steps while I am busy at work? Like I said it is difficult having a full-time career and being a mother. I know that I need to return to work. It is good for me personally. It’s good for my mental state and confidence. I also know that I will miss being with my kids during the day.
I never thought I knew how to juggle, however I have been juggling my family life and work for years. That is my internal struggle.
Tell me yours.