My love for my son trumps anything and everything. There isn’t one thing in this universe that comes before him and his needs and my commitment to being a parent. Motherhood is the single most important job/responsibility/gift that I have ever had or will ever have in my life. BUT, I am a working mother and very guiltily love to work. Not only do I love to work, but I love my job, and I like feeling like I have something to call my own. Something that helps me keep my identity as an individual outside of my duties as a mother is important to me.
If I had to make a choice between the two I would drop my work in an instant! In a perfect world I would not have gone back to work until Mateo was in school, but in this day and age and economy I was not able to do that. I got to stay home for 15 months with my son and I am so incredibly grateful for the fact that I got to stay with him for the important first year. If I had missed that time in his life I think I really would have been broken up about it and I think our relationship would be different. There aren’t many people who are as fortunate as I was in that situation and I thank my lucky stars that I was given the opportunity to be with him as long as I was.
With that said, when I went back to work I cried everyday for the first month. I called my mother fifteen thousand times to see if he was okay, if she had fed him, if he was crying, if he was breathing, if he missed me, if I had been gone so long that he had solved the Rubix cube (haha). My mother would start to ignore my calls because I called that much! I was possessed by the thought of something happening to him when he was out of my sight. I also was obsessed with him forgetting me and thinking my mom was his mother or preferring her over me! [Thankfully that is not the case and my mom will be the first person to say that when his father and I are home he barely knows her, so crisis averted HAHA!] I had never (before going back to work) left him for more than three hours, as he was exclusively breastfed, so I was ridden with anxiety. Obviously my mother had raised two children to adulthood, but when it’s your child none of that means anything (on top of the fact that I became very anxious once I had Mateo). Another part of my incredible fortune was that my mother was able to stay home and take care of my son for me, which alleviated A LOT of stress and saved my husband and I a TON of money. If I had not been able to leave Mateo with my mother I have no clue how I would have survived the first month of work.
After my “transition period” back into the workforce I realized that I was glad to be around adults and talk about things other than laundry, dishes, nap time, diapers, and Yo Gabba Gabba. It was weird for sure as I felt like I was missing a limb, but liberating in a sense. That is when the guilt really started setting in…
The second I realized I was enjoying work I felt like a TERRIBLE mother! When I would get home everyday and Tommy or my mom or someone would ask how work was going I would just give my patented answer of, “Fine”, as I had no desire to tell anyone that I wasn’t exactly hating work anymore. The fact that I didn’t feel sick about being away from my son anymore made me feel awful. I still missed Mateo terribly and called to check on him, but I didn’t feel like crying anymore when I left for work and my anxiety subsided a bit. I had to figure out a way to stop feeling guilty as I knew I was working to help support my son.
While I was at work I would focus on my task at hand so I would not call my mother as much and kept calls strictly to breaks. It also helped a great deal that Mateo wasn’t crying anymore when I left for work and I didn’t have to hear him screaming “Mama” as I left. After a while it got so much easier and we got into a groove; I was less anxious, so Mateo was less anxious, and he knew that I was coming home at the end of the day. Now, 23 months after I returned to work there are still days where I just want to stay home with him and play and just be his mom and it makes me sad that I don’t have the choice. When he is sick it’s so difficult to leave him! But, mostly we have a great balance…I get to be a working, productive adult at my job from 9-5 and then “Mom” during all other hours.
The struggle really makes you wonder though. As a woman you can’t have it all unfortunately. You either get to fulfill your career aspirations completely or you get to fulfill your maternal desires completely. If you can’t do one or the other completely you have to struggle to be somewhere in the middle doing both. This is what remains the hard part of being a working mother for me. As a man you can be off being Master of the Universe everyday, travel for your job, and still be the dad who tosses a ball around with your kid in your free time. When you’re a mom there is ALWAYS guilt, something you’re missing out on to do the other, and something that you are neglecting in order to be able to do the other. It makes me sad when my mom sends me pictures of my son playing in the park, or calls me so he can tell me some new thing he learned, or when she teaches him something that I didn’t have the chance to. These are the things I loose out on and I hate it!
Then there are the things that I am too tired/busy for…There are things that I know I could have done if I didn’t spend 10 hours a day gone. Mateo would already be completely potty trained, he would NOT still be sleeping in our bed, I’d have more time to get housework done, maybe some decorating, and Mateo wouldn’t be still be an only child. Finding a balance is a daily struggle that I have still not mastered. After a long day at work, coming home to cook, feed, bathe, and perform all my mom duties, having to do the nightly struggle of getting up a million times to put Mateo back in his own bed is a daunting task. In between the few hours I have to get all the aforementioned done I can barely remember to ask Mateo if he has to go to the potty until he’s telling me he is peepee-ing in his Pull-Up. If there were more hours in the day or I could clone myself (I’m looking into it…) maybe the laundry wouldn’t sit in the bags a few days after being done. Also, if I had the luxury of staying home and caring for my own children Mateo would have a new sibling already or one would be “baking”. Other than extending the day and cloning myself I know there will always be something lacking and that drives me nuts/makes me sad/sucks!
But, we are nearing the end! Next September my baby boy (who isn’t really a baby anymore) will be off to Pre-K and will not need my undivided attention (or that of anyone else) for at least 8 hours a day while he is off growing up and learning at school. This is almost unbelievable to me as I can swear to you he was just born, but it is also another thing that makes me sad about not being able to share every single second of his only “free” years. My mom always tells me to be grateful that I get to do both (work and parent) and I try to be grateful that I get to maintain my identity as an individual at a job that I love, but it isn’t always easy. Now I have to pencil in having another child and there goes another thing to add to my guilt train! I wanted Mateo to have a sibling that he would be close in age with, but at this rate the chances of that have obviously passed.
Everything goes by so fast! My precious newborn is now a “big boy” who is completely his own little person. He knows what he likes and what he doesn’t, he has favorite things, and routines without me. He’s old enough to tell me no, him and his dad do boy things together and have their own little relationship, he likes to take trips to see “Goo” (my aunt), he likes to call people on the phone to talk, he knows how to FaceTime!! As every day passes and he grows I know that I can’t get back the past two y ears where I have missed things, but I know as much as I miss in his Monday-Friday routine I have gained in my job. I love what I do, I love the people I work with and for, I have been promoted, I have learned a lot about business in general and the business I am in. I have also grown a lot as person and a mother because of the fact that I am a working parent.
So, at the end of the day…yea I’m sad I’m not the one making him breakfast and lunch, I’m sad he gets to feed the ducks in Kissena Park without me, goes to Chuck E. Cheese’s without me, I hate missing him make little friends at the park, and I’m sad that I miss firsts and booboo’s and just him overall, but it’s okay. On weekends I stay in bed longer with him, we watch movies, we paint (his new favorite activity), we go to the park, for bike rides, we surf the net for shark and horse pictures, and I get to hug and kiss him and just be with him. Nothing will ever be exactly how I want it, but I’m fortunate in what I have. Mateo and I have an unbreakable bond, he’s my tiny soulmate, he gets Tuesday’s (Daddy’s day off) to have manly bonding all with his favorite guy on Earth. Tommy and I don’t get to spend every single second with him, but we have the comfort of knowing he is being well taken care of and we get to hear all about what he has done during the day when we get home.
At the end of the day I am first and foremost a mother, it is what most defines me, but I am also a proud member of the workforce!