Friday, January 25, 2013

Thoughts on being a working mommy...

"You are coming back to the firm after your maternity leave, aren't you?" my secretary asked me as I was leaving for the day yesterday evening.

No one had actually asked me that yet, but I knew that others were probably wondering the same thing.

I smiled and assured her that, yes, I'd definitely be returning to the office when my twelve weeks are up.  She seemed happy to hear that, which made me smile.

And before I get lambasted with judgment, let me just say... the reasons for my steadfast determination to muster up the strength to continue working after I become a mommy are many.  First of all, although Micah has a great and steady job, we definitely couldn't afford our house and car payments without my salary.  I also have law school loans that stress the heck out of me (even though I know they're fairly insignificant compared to many others'), and we're aggressively trying to get them paid off in the next two-and-a-half years.  So even if I wanted to stay home, we'd be looking at selling our house, moving, getting different cars, and drastically changing the way we live life in order to accommodate that desire.

But more importantly, and beyond the financial aspects, I truly do love my job.  I know I'm going to love Grace more (I already do) and that my ambition and drive to succeed at work will shift significantly once she's here.  But I don't think my fundamental desire to delve into a case and advocate on behalf of a client is going to magically disappear after I have a baby.  I just happen to really like being a lawyer.

I also worked really hard in school for seven years to earn that J.D. -- with four years devoted to mastering biochemistry and three years reading thousands of pages in an attempt to learn to "think like a lawyer."  And I'm proud of what He has done in me through that learning.  The idea of leaving it all behind is honestly unthinkable to me.

Lastly, I grew up with a working mom, and I always planned on being a working mom, too, because that's what was normal to me.  I'll honestly admit that it was hard sometimes for my brother and me when she couldn't make it to every single event at the school and simply didn't have the time to be the president of the PTA.  But she didn't miss much, and she bent over backward trying to juggle it all.  And mostly?  She did an amazing job.  I never felt any less loved, and I was inspired to reach for my dreams because I saw that it really was possible to be a fantastic mom and wife while also accomplishing achievements in my own right.  Her strength always always encouraged me to be confident in my ability to do big things on my own.  I want that for Grace.

BUT...

I can already imagine how incredibly difficult it's going to be to have to leave Grace in the care of others when the time comes.  And I know, without any doubt, that I'm going to be green with envy of you incredible stay-at-home mommies. 

Not because it's easier.  In fact, I firmly believe that it's harder for stay-at-home mommies than it is for working moms because you phenomenal women carry the load of growing up your children all by yourself -- day in and day out -- without being able to pass the load on to others to carry and without the tangible reward of a fantastic bonus or a great year-end-review to remind you of what a great job you're doing.  Seriously... this mommy-to-be applauds you all and can assure you that I will never feel anything except admiration for your decision to stay at home with your loves.  (And I suppose I hope for the same courtesy from you about my decision to continue to work.  I really, really believe that we're all in this together and that, as a group, we could stand to be a whole lot less judgmental of one another.)

No, my envy will stem from the fact that I'm going to miss out on things in order to try and balance it all.  I know that going in.  I know that there will be many tears and much exhaustion and a whole lot of guilt.  There will be days when I'm tempted to quit, and heck... I may very well change my mind three years down the road. 

But I know one thing. 

I'll be counting on Him (and you guys!) to lift me up on the rough days.  I'm going to do my very best for Grace (and any other siblings that pop up down the road) and let Him do the rest. 

Because that's all any of us can really do, isn't it?

So here's to what I know will be the most incredible, rewarding, frustrating, wonderful, exhausting, and trying journey of my life.  Let's all just hope that I don't screw her up too badly... ;)

17 comments:

Jessica K said...

Well spoken. I as well went back to work 8 weeks after I had my daughter. It was hard. I didn't stop working until she was almost 3 years old. I missed a lot. And it was hard. I cried many tears. She was in great hands. Seeing both sides... I believe both are hard, just in different ways. I love being with her now, but I do get more frustrated, and I don't ever get to really miss her. But then I struggle with her not seeing a powerful, intelligent, mother. My mom worked, still works, and like your mom, you didn't know any different. You didn't miss out on anything. I truly believe everyone has to make their own decision. Find a good daycare, or someone you know. If you go the daycare route, I recommend finding one with internet access. Greatly reduced my worry when I could login at work and watch her!

Laurie @ The Rookie Wife said...

I think it's great that you are going back to work! You may feel a little guilty at first, but honestly? Working Mommies are for the most part happy mommies. Don't beat yourself up about it. I gave up my career to be a SAHM (I was a Sport's Blogger for the Baltimore Ravens) and some days I really miss my relationship with the staff, team and other media. I still blog but only occasionally and media events are limited. I think sometimes it's just hard being a SAHM when the kids are all away at school! I think 12 weeks is a great amount of time to stay home and bond with baby:)

Rebekah said...

It is hard. Especially that first month. I find it's best to focus on the positive aspects. We have a wonderful daycare and I choose to focus on the incredible things she is learning. They have taught her things I would have never dreamed of teaching her and some of it (spanish, infant sign language) I don't have the knowledge. I also know I don't have what it takes to be a good stay at home mommy. Ana, Rob and I are much happier because I have a job. You and Micah have to choose what's best for you and ignore anyone else who may judge.

Lisamarie said...

Oh Lord... this is what stresses me out the most and I am not even pregnant! I love my job (well, parts of it at least) but I don't know how I will manage work and baby because work can easily consume me! Yikes. I am so so excited to watch you figure it out so that you can help me figure it out!

Emily said...

Just a beautiful and well spoken post, Ryan! I too will be coming back to work after 8 weeks of leave with Lilly so we will be in the same boat around the same time too. We can support eachother on the rough days, and I know there will be rough days! I feel much less anxiety about this now that we know who will be caring for Lilly when I return to work. Have you figured that out for Grace?

Colleen said...

Well said and I could not agree more!! I love my kids more than anything in the world but I know that I would miss work terribly. I genuinely enjoy being a lawyers as well and I cannot imagine not doing that. Sure there are moments that make it hard being a working mother but you will manage.

Charlotte said...

The Lord picked YOU with all of your gifts, talents, dreams, and ambitions to be Grace's mom. He has equipped you to do all of those things for your clients AND for her. We are all multifaceted humans. You shine at being a lawyer and you will shine at being a mommy! No judgement here!

Lish said...

I am planning to go back to work after my maternity leave is over. I'm a teacher and the thought of going back stresses me out because it is such a demanding job. The only difference is that I will have a year with my baby. I can't imagine only 12 weeks. You know what is right for you and your family and what will work for you. There is more than one way to parent and there are many amazing working moms.

Mary Beth said...

I went back to work after 12 weeks when I had Addi. I'm not going to lie, it's hard at first. The first week or so I would call the daycare every day to check on her. Now, Addi is almost 3 and she LOVES going to daycare with her friends and she has learned so much. Don't let anyone make you feel guilty about choosing to work. Working has allowed us to save for her college and future. We would never be able to save as much if I were staying at home. You are going to be an amazing mom!

Kristy said...

Good for you! Every mom has to make her own decisions--what's best for her and her family :)

Candice said...

Well said!!

Megan said...

Funny, I was just talking about this today. I also plan on being a working mama. I plan on working part time which is really easy to do with my career as a dental hygienist. You can do it! : )

ThistleAshD said...

If there is anything I've learned since becoming a mom, it's that God has an incredible amount of grace for my child. Somehow He seems to cover what I miss out on, etc. I have been a working mom the whole time, and for me it was a huge emotional struggle that first year. And actually is a huge struggle after every summer break. But its just reality. Prayers for your new life. Grace will be blessed no matter how you direct your career.

Mandy said...

You are already an amazing mommy to Grace and you can tell that by how much thought you have put into this big decision! There is absolutely nothing wrong with going back to work after you have her! You always, always, always have to do what is best for YOUR family and never forget that!! Sometimes it's hard decisions, but nonetheless- you're doing what's best for your family, therefore it's the best choice! :) Soak in those 12 weeks at home with her and you know what? The absolute best part of your day, every single day, is going to be when you go and pick her up after a long day at the office (or come home to her!). Just think about that on the hard days! You've got this girl!!

Julie bohomumma said...

no one can judge and you have to do what is right for you and your family. You'll know what feels right to you in good time and that's what you have to do. Both options are hard, in different ways and it might be that one suits for now, then something else another time. Good luck with all that happens though x

Allie said...

Go team working moms!!! I've seen friends struggle with this. I'm proud of you! I had a working mom too, and I turned out alright with an INCREDIBLE relationship with my momma!!! :)

The Copeland Family said...

He will get you through those hard times...I have enjoyed the best of both worlds...and I know you will, too. :) Hugs!

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