by: Thaisa Jones, Guest Contributor
“Are you ready to get your life back and head to work?”
“Aren’t you excited to get back to your routine?”
“Won’t it be a relief to not worry about the baby all day?”
Life. Routine. Worry.
As I stood there crying tears of joy holding the positive pregnancy test, everything changed. There was a shift in my universe. The GPS had to recalculate. The destination didn’t change, but we had to implement a detour. My life would never go back to what it once was, I wouldn’t want it to. The routine I had fallen into would change, it had to. And worry, well that is an innocent side effect of motherhood.
This time last year, I was frantically searching for articles to help me ease back into the workforce. I made it a point to call or text every working mother I knew to try and get some perspective, some tips, and some words of encouragement. I became obsessed with figuring out a schedule; I seriously accounted for every minute of my day. Over and over I counted the frozen breast milk storage bags in the freezer, checking the dates and arranging them accordingly. There wasn’t a day that went by in those last weeks leading up to my return to work that I didn’t remind myself that women do it every day. Millions of women, across the world, have children and hold down a career. It was normal, it was more than ok.
As I matriculated through college and continued to achieve career goals, I always knew one day I would want children, but never saw myself as a traditional stay at home mom. However, in those last weeks, I questioned whether or not it was fair for me to still have career ambitions with this little human who depended on me for the most basic needs. I knew I was built to work long hours, manage my own team, challenge the industry, publish a book, and fight for membership at the boys club. But…could I do all of that and take on motherhood? Was there enough of me to go around?
I nervously shook my head and smiled in response to these questions. The truth was, I didn’t have an answer. Not one that wasn’t accompanied with crocodile tears and stomach knots. Had I reached new levels of exhaustion? Sure. Would it be nice to slip into clothes with zippers and buttons that weren’t accessorized with spit up stains? Absolutely. However, before all of that, I was terrified of leaving my tiny human in the hands of someone that didn’t know what their sounds and facial expressions meant.
The truth is, there is no guide on how to slip back into the office. Water cooler conversation isn’t covered in any of the What to Expect books or Wonder apps. Honestly, the only thing that worked, for me, was being able to call friends and family to calm me down when I had quiet moments at work. There will be tears, at work, in the car, at home in your closet. We’re all different, being pulled in various directions. Some are working through the ranks, while some are managing others and there’s plenty that are running the entire show; the entire ship depends on their leadership and guidance.
No matter where you are in your career, heading back to work after a baby isn’t easy. Take your time easing back into work. Allow yourself time to reconfigure your schedule. Do not beat yourself up for being ambitious. It’s ok to pursue your passion AND be a mommy. You were absolutely built to manage a career and a family. Yes, there will be days you are exhausted. Sure, you may have a few days you don’t recognize yourself in the mirror. When you reach a new level of tired, when you don’t think there’s any way you can continue, right when you start to think there is no one that can understand this struggle, take a deep breath and dig your heels in even more. Know that there is an army of working moms out here cheering for you. No matter how much that little one cries when you leave, they are watching your every move. They are forming their future work ethics based on your drive and determination. You are a role model. You are amazing. You can handle all of this…and more!
Who runs the world? Well, Beyonce almost had it right…working moms…that’s who runs the world!
*For more from Thaisa Jones, follow her on twitter @thaieileen.