So, it has been just about one year since I have returned to work full-time after having Peanut. Right after she was born, we had 3 wonderful months together of maternity leave. We ate together, napped together, danced and sang together, napped together some more, ate together some more. When the three months ended, I was not only returning to work full-time but had also taken a new job during my maternity leave. The job was closer to home/easier commute and better pay, a difficult decision because I loved my old job/co-workers but a no-brainer with a new baby to support.
Since my husband is currently a graduate student, I knew from the get-go that I would return to work full-time when the time came. It was a difficult transition for all three of us and I dreaded it as the day approached. Not only was Peanut now going to be away from me for 8-9 hours a day, she was going to be with a new caregiver (a.k.a. stranger). Luckily, although our nanny-share situation has taken several forms over the last year, I have always felt confident in Peanut’s safety in the care of our childcare providers.
That being said, I’m here to say that returning to work full-time wasn’t easy and has had its ups and downs. In a perfect world, would I choose to work part-time, to strike a more even balance between my life as a mother and my professional life? Of course I would. As important as it is to be there for Peanut, I think it is equally important to maintain my career and have her exposed to other people including their personalities, traditions and creativity. To me, that is a win-win for everyone.
The pros of returning to work? Do such things exist?
Regaining my own regular schedule helped all three of us achieve a more normal schedule, particularly in the sleep department. Peanut developed more normal sleep patterns, allowing my husband and I to sleep better at night and feel more energized during the day.
I also began to feel like I wasn’t “tethered” to Peanut. I know that probably sounds horrible, because I didn’t want to leave her, but at the same time it took about a solid month after she was born for me to feel like I could leave Peanut for even a minute. Part of it for me was the nursing/pumping situation and how time-consuming that was. Part of it was feeling like Super Mommy, like I had to be the only one to attend to every little cry. Going back to work helped me realize that Peanut would be okay without me and conversely, I would be okay without her.
Correlating to this idea was feeling like I regained a little part of me, the old, pre-Peanut me. Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t want to be the pre-Peanut me, but it was nice to get back into a routine, something familiar, after feeling the unrelenting sense of a ship out at sea without a compass, or what I call becoming a new mom.
The cons of returning to work?
Missing Peanut everyday, missing what I think I’m missing while she’s getting bigger, walking and talking up a storm. While waiting at the bus stop the other morning (I’m out of the house before she wakes up, my husband is with her until the nanny arrives at 8), I had a sad thought. Monday through Friday, I see Peanut for about two and a half hours a day. A day. Ugh, heartbreaking. And not only that, but after a full day of on my feet work, I have to make sure to put on my best, sparkly Mommy face at home. I won’t lie, somedays it feels like a challenge. But you know what, all the more incentive to try to make that time count, focus on her and nothing else. Because eventually, it won’t be my choice to only have two and a half hours a day with Peanut.
Do the pros outweigh the cons? Let’s be honest, not so much. But the good news is that we’ve made it this far and Peanut is a happy, healthy and thriving toddler! Other Moms out there, full-time, part-time or stay-at-home, what are your pros and cons?