Working outside the house is a whole different story after maternity leave than it was before. Being away from the babe can be gratifying and stimulating, but also stressful. And I’m not talking about guilt, whose impact truly varies from mom to mom. I’m talking about the logistics that make a job and parenting hard to balance.
From getting ready for work in the morning while a little person is demanding attention to making sure I had sufficient food in the house to feed us, it was tough for me.Â And when my nanny canceled in order to tend to her own child who needed her? I had to stay home from work. And let’s not even talk about pumping. Now I know there are numerous tricks that working moms master along the way (hello, grocery delivery services), but on the first day? The first month? The first year? There’s a steep learning curve. My friend Mary, her family’s breadwinner and mom of two, encouraged me, “Give yourself permission to learn on the job.”
No one knows how to do their new job entirely on the first day of work, she reminded me, so how would you know how to be a Working Mom the first day that becomes your new title?
After some practice, it gets better. (So friends, don’t quit your job just because the first week back is so awful.)
Mary even gave me a bottle of champagne when I had my second child and told me to save it for the day that Ryan and I felt like, “Okay, we got this. We have two kids and it’s working.”
And you know how much I like to get a gold star when I do something hard.
The gold stars we earn as working moms may still be rough around the edges. Practice does not mean perfection. It means that when you arrive to drop your child off at daycare and realize he’s out of diapers and you didn’t bring any, you understand that asking to borrow some doesn’t make you a failure. It means shrugging off mistakes and figuring out how to work around them.
I give merit badges for problem solving.
When I was on my first maternity leave, I geared up for going back to work by acting like I had a job. Sort of.
Last year, Kids in the House interviewed me about All Things Rookie Moms, here’s what I said about how to “practice” for working moms.