Being a mom is a full-time job.
And it is freaking hard. It’s the only occupation in the world that doesn’t get sick days, vacation time, or a salary. It does come with full benefits though, like unlimited hugs, warm fuzzy feelings, and complete and total adoration. Those benefits alone are reason enough to give up the pay and vacation days of a different job to focus on motherhood.
I admire women who are able to be full-time moms and I also admire mothers who work outside of the home. Every family has to decide which option is better for them financially, logistically, and mentally (gotta stay sane). When I found out I was pregnant, there was no question in my mind. I would return to my full-time office job after giving birth. I would be a working SAHM (stay-at-home mom for those of you wondering).
Having been employed in some form since the age of 12, I have had so many different jobs. I’ve been a grocery bagger, host, waitress, lifeguard, babysitter, catering attendant…the list goes on. After returning from Spain, where I spent four years as an English teacher, I got a job working at a tech start-up. I had worked at the start-up for almost two years when my pregnancy test came up positive. Being pregnant in the office was great – minus the having to sit in a chair all day part of it (I basically turned the couch in our reception area into my personal desk).
After having my baby boy, I spent six weeks on maternity leave, recovering and learning how to be a mom. When my six weeks were up (I think all mothers should get 12 weeks off – 4th trimester and all!), I returned to work and it was very different than where I left it.
Since going back to work, my employer has been so flexible and wonderful in allowing me to work from home three days a week and to be in the office for the other two. This was the first adjustment I had to get used to. So much of my job is managing people and attending meetings. I had to figure out how to make myself present in the office while not actually being present.
Easier said than done.
Also, having a newborn at home means that there is no set schedule I can follow when working from home. There’s no way to know when he’ll be screaming at the top of his lungs and when he’ll be napping peacefully. When I have to call a customer, I do the best I can. We discuss contract renewals, while I desperately make funny faces at baby boy to keep him from crying. I answer customer questions, while bouncing around the house with Samuel in my arms to keep him smiling. From the outside, I’m sure I look like a crazy lady.
Not having a set schedule for Samuel also means that I don’t get a set schedule. I work on projects in the early hours of the morning when Juan is around, before he heads out to work. I also find myself working late in the evening, once Samuel is down for the night. Most days, I don’t even have the time to shower or to make anything substantial for lunch. It’s hard. The trade-off is being able to enjoy time spent with my baby boy during the day. I get to watch him grow and develop in the most subtle ways. It’s definitely worth it.
Going into the office is another beast entirely. It is in no way the same since I left. I find myself in and out of meetings for majority of the two days I’m there. When I’m not in meetings, I’m trying to catch up on the things I’ve missed out on during the other three days of the week. I do all of this while constantly thinking about my little guy and how he’s doing without me (he’s either with Juan or my mother).
I read somewhere once that when you have a baby, suddenly your heart exists outside of your body. Everything you do revolves around this tiny human and he becomes your highest priority and concern. Being away from my heart for 8-9 hours for two days a week takes a toll on me. I can’t imagine what it would be like to be away from him for all 5 days of the week. Again, I’m super lucky.
I think there’s a perception among people who may not have children that stay-at-home moms sit on the couch, eating bonbons all day. That they have all of the time in the world to do whatever they want. This is truly the stuff of the misinformed. When I’m at home, I don’t watch TV, I don’t take leisurely lunches, I don’t nap when my baby naps. When Samuel naps or is happy enough to sit in his bouncer or swing, I’m doing my office work. The rest of the day, I’m feeding him, doing laundry, changing dirty diapers, trying to keep him entertained, rocking him, comforting him while he screams, washing bottles, cleaning spit-up, and loving him with all of my being.
Whether you work full time as a mom, out of the house, or a mixture of both, keep doing what you’re doing! It’s so hard and challenging and not everyone will understand what you’re going through. That’s okay. You’re doing the best you can for you and your family, so what you are doing is perfect!