Hi. I'm a working mom. Even though I worked part-time last year, I still worked five days a week. Even though I just decided to take next year off from my regularly scheduled work, I will still be working. Amazingly, as a teacher, I have most of the summer as a reprieve from working to focus on time with my son. Working moms have a hard balancing act, obviously, but I never really understood how hard until I became one.
The choices we make. Are very personal. Are easy for others to judge. Are really, truly our own. Are not always the best ones, even when we try really hard. Do I wish I had the ability to stay home the first three, four, five years of my son's life? Sure, in many ways. The idea scares me, too, as much of my identity is wrapped up in my career. Or even just interacting on a professional level, if I had a different career. So, if given the choice, I don't know that I would want to stay home full-time for that long.
But here's the truth I recently admitted: my son does better when I'm home. Don't get me wrong, we've had some wonderful care-providers who have loved him fully, but I'm Mama. He has gradually transitioned to not having milk while I'm gone. That's fine, and maybe even natural, though I fought it by pumping even when it was hard and unproductive and getting his nanny to push the milk whatever way possible--sippy cup, in food, etc. But now I'm home, and he gets as much milk as he wants. During the hours I used to be gone, he nurses at least twice. So, he's getting the nutrition from milk AND food, and many may say he doesn't NEED the milk, but it's certainly healthy for him.
And sleep. He's finally getting on a schedule that was not happening while I was working. The only way for our nanny and my parents to get him to sleep was by going for a long walk. This made for an interesting winter. It made for a frustrated nanny many times, until she just succumbed to it and planned accordingly. My mom just looked at it as a way to get in all of her daily steps.
Now I'm able to work out the sleep issues that have built up, from bedtime to nap time. One informs the other. The chicken and the egg. Not that we are done. Currently I am going back and forth between a one-nap day and a two-nap day, depending on when he awakes.
That my son does better when I'm home must be the most obvious statement in the world to some of you. But we who work, while we try hard to see the situation for what it is, do everything we can to soften transitions, and see the big picture as well, sometimes justify our need or choice to work over what is best for our kid. I am still grappling with this and I'm not done. Down the line, there are probably elements where I'll be proud for O to see me with a career, see my values played out in my work, when he has a teacher, for him to recognize that his mama is also a teacher to other kids. Down the line, maybe without knowing what I'm missing, I'll recognize that O is more well-rounded when his mama is well-rounded, intellectually stimulated and in touch with the world, not isolated or unfamiliar with how to talk to adults. For right now, I am simply going to enjoy every moment of these three months being at home, for him and with him.