I had a nice little staycation last week, but coming back to work yesterday was brutal. Okay, it wasn’t really that bad, but every time I go back to work after a vacation I am immediately reminded of how sad I was after my maternity leave. Actually, I was miserable. On top of the fact that I hadn’t lost all of my baby weight, I missed my baby girl terribly.
Three years later, I still feel pangs of sadness every day when I have to leave my little girl to go to work. Earlier this year I confessed that I often bring her gifts because I still feel guilty about leaving her. The guilt, it turns out, is actually pretty common. As are a lot of the other things I go through as a working mom. So in an effort to band together with all my other working mamas out there, here are 10 things I feel/go through on a regular basis as a mother who works away from home.
1. It gets easier. But not much. Going back to work after maternity leave is definitely the hardest, but you’ll probably still feel sad for many years to come. Mondays are especially hard, and the first day back after a vacation or a long weekend is also particularly brutal.
2. Be prepared with bribes. I know the parenting books and pediatricians will probably wave a finger at me here, but there will definitely be days your kid just doesn’t want you to leave. And on those days, promising ice cream or a new toy will be your only way out.
3. The guilt. I didn’t actually start feeling guilty until my daughter was about two. In the beginning you just feel sad to be leaving your child, but then it turns into guilt because you realize how much you miss in the 8 hours while you’re at work. You know you have to work to feed and clothe your child, but you feel guilty for going to work to do just that.
4. Every time something or someone at work pisses you off, you will be overcome with sadness because you’ll wish you were home with your child. It will play out something like this: “I hate this stupid place. Why do I even come here? I have a cute kid at home who loves me no matter what. I miss him/her so much.” Give yourself a few seconds and then think back to the last time your child pissed you off. Let it marinate. Okay, now back to work you go.
5. The jealousy is normal. There will be days when you envy SAHMs because they seem to have it all. They get to spend every waking hour with their children, after all. But their lives are equally as challenging, just in different ways.
6. You will lose the “having it all” game. Maybe not every day, but there will definitely be days when your work suffers because you stayed up the previous night nursing a sick kid. On the flip side, there will be days when your kids eat french fries and ice cream for dinner because you really do have to finish that important presentation. Don’t beat yourself up–just try to be a better working mom the next day.
7. You get used to running on fumes. Being a mom is draining. Add another full-time job to that and yes, you’re bound to be seriously exhausted. A lot. You will occasionally feel well-rested, but most of the time you will just be tired. Somehow your body will adjust and you will learn to function again.
8. Find a routine… and stick to it. It really is no easy feat getting yourself and a finicky kid out the door at a certain time every morning, which makes having a routine so important. My daughter knows that we have to leave the house by 9:47 a.m. (yes, it’s that down pat), so as soon as she wakes up she knows she has to pick out her clothes, her shoes and find her backpack.
9. Pictures, pictures, pictures! The sad reality is that you will miss lots of your child’s milestones while you’re working. What that means, however, is that you really have to make the most of the time you do spend with your kid. Always carry a camera so you can document the milestones and mundane moments alike.
10.Last but not least, remember working is a break and you’re allowed to enjoy it. Let’s be honest: as sad as being away from your child can be, it’s also a huge chunk of time when you don’t have to be mommy. Use those precious hours to talk about grown-up stuff, use grown-up words and yes, even do grown-up things (sometimes).
Are you working mom? Can you relate? Share your working mom truths in the comments.
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