Monday, July 23, 2012

Being a working mom

Through all the years we tried so hard to become parents, I always assumed I would go back to work after my initial maternity leave. It wasn't even something we ever really gave much thought to. The discussion always revolved around how long of a leave I would take, not whether I would return at all. And now that we are finally parents and I am a mama, I find it odd to call myself a working mama. It's not that I wish I could stay home. But applying the term "working mother" to myself puts me smack dab in the middle of endless debates between working mothers and stay at home mothers. I am usually game for a good debate, yet don't want to be part of this powder keg.

Here's my dirty secret. I don't think I would be a very good stay at home mom. I am quite happy with how we have things arranged now. While I do wish I could spend more time with him, I also relish my daytime life and the stimulation it brings. You see, I'm a nerd. I like thinking about hard and complex problems and learning new things. The biggest thoughts Seven has right now are around how to get his foot into his mouth. As adorable as he is, I can only blow raspberries with him for so long. That's why I feel like we hit the jackpot with our daycare situation so I can see Seven during lunch for some fun and cuddle time and then head back to work for intellectual stimulation.

I've just come to this realization with the blow up over new Yahoo CEO. You may have heard that this company with huge problems just hired a CEO who is pregnant with her first child. But what was really hitting the airwaves was her statement that her maternity leave would only be a few weeks and she would work throughout it. The reaction of nearly everyone was that she is so naive and will surely change her plans or suffer the consequences. Everyone assumed she was completely off her hinges for planning such a short leave. Doesn't she know how hard it will be? Doesn't she know that she will just want to cocoon with her baby in a mother-baby bliss for months on end? My reaction to reading all of these reactions was defensive. Part of it was realizing, hello, she is incredibly privileged and will have every assistance a new parent might want. A nanny, a chef, a housekeeper. It's not like this CEO will be doing any of her new baby's laundry whether or not she has a long maternity leave.

But even more than that, I resisted the idea that all new mothers will want to spends alone with their new baby. I love Seven fiercely. Yet spending time away is healthy for me, and thus for him. I realized the reason I've been feeling guilty since I returned to work. Guilt for a working mother is par for the course, right? Except I wasn't feeling guilty about putting him in daycare. It is a wonderful place and after a transition period, he is very happy there. They take good care of him and I visit every day. I felt guilty for not feeling guilty. Am I so unlike all other mothers for not feeling guilty? I felt like every time I read something about how women really want to spend 6 months or a year with their new baby or sob every time they drop him off at daycare, it was society calling me a bad mother. Even though I didn't feel like one.

In the end, I'm glad the Yahoo CEO is making the choice that she is because it lets other women admit that some of us are excited to get back to work.


  1. You are totally normal. Everyone is different. I have quite a few friends that are "working moms" and wouldn't have it any other way. Some days I really miss my career and wonder when I'll jump back into that world. For now, I am one who stays at home. All that mommy judging crap really pisses me off. Do what works for you!

  2. Totally normal! I think that honestly, no matter what you decide (work outside the home or be a SAHM) someone will be making you feel bad about it. I get comments all the time about how great it must be to be at home all day doing whatever I want to... as if! You have chosen what works for you and your family, and that's the most important thing.

  3. I felt guilty once my maternity leave was up with the kid, because I, too, was ready to go back to work. Little infants are particularly stimulating! Which is why I was really confused to find myself wanting to stay home with baby E. Now (more than a year and a half later), I realize I wouldn't have been happy to stay home full time. Funny how I had guilt at all these points, though, isn't it?

  4. I wish I could work a little less, but I'm with you on wanting to be a "working mother." It's really hard, but I wouldn't want to stay home full time. Great post!

  5. I'm the opposite! I always assumed I would love staying at home, and coming to grips with the fact that that "wasn't enough for me" and that I, too, not only wanted but NEEDED intellectual stimulation and adult company was a bit of a discovery and self-realization process! During this process I judged myself a lot but I'm over it. Even though I still stay at home, I have had to find many ways/outlets that allow me the stimulation and challenge at the same time. I very much related to everything you said and like other commenters said, we are all different and we all need different things to stay sane and happy! There is nothing wrong with that. ;-)


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