Thursday, November 1, 2012

Being Mommy: Work-Life Balance

Ah. This is every working mom's most loved and hated topic. The truth is, I thought it was going to be impossible to go back to work after maternity leave. I was going to miss so many firsts... what if she started crawling for the first time when I wasn't home? What if she got hurt and needed me? I was surprised when toward the end of my long (luckily), nearly 6-month leave, I was looking forward to going back to work. I love my job and my colleagues, but that was only part of it. I was looking forward to dresses and heels, lunches where I didn't have to do baby talk, and the mind-stimulating atmosphere of work! The first days were very hard. It broke my heart to leave my daughter, even with a loving and wonderful caretaker. Some days are still hard, but I am so glad I did it, because most days are great.

I am lucky to work in an environment where family is cherished and my office has allowed me to work 4 days a week since I've been back (over a year ago). No one minded that I pumped twice a day in a small office in the courthouse. I obsessively refrigerated my milk and meticulously carried it from the office to court to home, even once leaving it in the fridge at a colleague's home. Yuck. But such is the scatter brain of a working mom, especially one who is just getting used to it all.

Still, I feel so fortunate to have had an easy transition back to work. Even now, I try to be home by little J's dinner time every day, and we get in a couple of hours of mommy & baby time in the evenings before bed. While Mon-Thursday, life is filled with breakfasts on the go and scheduling playdates in between court appearances, I am so thrilled to have Fridays with my baby girl. We do get in some quality time on those days. I love taking her to her pre-ballet class at NY Kids Club, and we always do an outdoor activity like the Central Park Zoo, or our local swing park. Saturdays & Sundays are family time, filled with great exploratory and bonding activities. Don't get me wrong... Friday is my hardest day of the week. I am more tired on Friday evenings than when I went to work the day before. I think being a stay at home mom is a very hard job. If it were me, I'm not sure I would have same energy and patience with little J were I with her all day every day. Because I also have a job outside the home, I think I make more of an effort to enjoy my child when I am with her. I know many other working moms agree with me. Part of it is to make up for the guilt of having been away, but more of it is the ability to have had something other than childcare as part of your day. It reinvigorates me in a way that nothing else could. Do stay at home moms agree or disagree with me?

What I notice the most about being a working mom is that my non-working time is so devoted to little J, that it ends up cutting into some "me" time. I don't want to leave her on my day off or on the weekends because I feel guilty that I'm not with her most of the time on Mon-Thurs. I feel guilty doing happy hour with friends, or planning anything for myself during any of her waking hours. I wonder if stay-at-home moms feel the same guilt? I would imagine that if I were with my daughter most of the week, a weekend day spent shopping or with my girlfriends, would not make me feel so bad. What do you think?

Photos: Top in Central Park, September '12
Middle in Madison Square Park at the Fall Kids' Fest, Oct '12
Botton at the Billy Johnson Playground in Central Park, September '12


  1. little J is lucky to have a mom like you!!!

  2. Love this post -- one of my "it'll be ok to go back to work" inspirations!