Affirmations for a Working Mother

Mom Guilt is a powerful thing. Even before I gave birth, I was blindsided one day with the guilt of “abandoning” my Little Dude to return to work. That’s right: he was still nestled deep within my womb and already the Mom Guilt was alive and thriving.

After the tears, logic (briefly) took over, and I decided to make myself a constant reminder about why this was the best choice for our family. I hope you can find something of value in my list.

When I miss my Little Dude at work, I remember:

I desire to contribute to society beyond my home.

That desire didn’t go away when I had a kid, and work fulfills this need. When I contribute to society, I feel a sense of wholeness/purpose that fuels a positive outlook on life. Positivity = a happy Mommy.

I am happiest when provided with intellectual stimulation and challenging problems to solve.

Again, this didn’t go away when I had a kid, and work fulfills this need. When I am happiest, my actions and interactions with my son/family are infused with this positive energy.

I desire adult interaction.

It’s probably best not to rely solely on my husband for this interaction – for both our sakes! The adult interaction that accompanies working allows me to return home recharged and ready for child interaction. When I return recharged, I have the energy to care for and interact with my son/family.

I am contributing to the financial welfare of our entire family.

My son benefits from this stable financial situation. When our financial needs are met, we can eat, maintain a safe and comfortable home, and make family memories.

I am exposing my son to other adult caregivers/authority figures.

His daycare situation fulfills this need. When he is exposed to other caregivers/authority figures, my son learns he is an independent person, and he gains a greater breadth of social interactions.

I am broadening my son’s horizons.

Through being in a different environment with a different caregiver, my son is being exposed to personalities, games, and situations he would otherwise not experience. When he is exposed to these things, his horizons are expanding in ways that I, as one individual, could not possibly provide by myself.

My son is being socialized by playing with the other children in the daycare situation.

When he is socialized with other children, he is learning to interact with and trust them. I believe this is an important life skill. Plus, he may even be having fun!

I desire home/work separation to practice balance in my life.

For the time being, I decided against seeking to work from home in order to achieve work/home separation. Work remains the priority during working hours. When I return home from work, I want the ability to devote quality time and attention to my son/family (dinner, bath time, story time, etc.). Whenever I do this, we can create special family memories.

It’s the little moments…

I was never a morning person. Instead, I was the kid huddled under her blanket reading until 2 a.m. I was the teenager who pushed curfew and pulled all-nighters before tests. Those habits carried into adulthood.

Then I had a kid.

Sleeping in now means 7:30 a.m., and odds are if I am up past midnight I am squeezing in an extra pump before bedtime.

6 p.m. used to mean the night was still young. Now, it means time is rapidly ticking toward Little Dude’s bedtime.

On the one hand, early bedtimes mean adult time before bed. However, when you’re a working mom, early bedtimes mean you only get a couple good evening hours with your child – and that’s if you’re lucky and there are no errands to run or chores to complete. (Let’s face it, some things just can’t wait.)

On an average night, 6 p.m. sees us walking in the door, Little Dude in tow. If it’s bath night, we get that started ASAP. Otherwise, we play. If it’s been a bad nap day, Little Dude falls asleep on the way home and we lose any sort of interaction before sleep time.

Doesn’t he know Mommy treasures those weeknight hours before bed? Doesn’t he realize he’s robbing me of the reason I eagerly watch the clock and pray traffic isn’t bad?

Likely, he’s just dreaming of his next meal.

Little Dude is constantly forcing me into a new perspective. So every time I feel that crushing weight of Mom Guilt bearing down on me, I remind myself to cherish the mornings.

That’s right, the girl who was never a morning person now lives for weekday mornings.

Weekday mornings begin before the alarm clock, to the tune of strident babbling, accompanied by tiny nails scratching along the mesh sides of the pack and play.

Weekday mornings (any day, really) progress when the babbling reaches fever pitch, at that grey area between “I’m just testing my vocal chords,” and “You better pick me up NOW or things could get ugly because I am not pleased thankyouverymuch.”

Weekday mornings mean leaning over the side of the crib and saying, “Good morning, Little Dude!” And then seeing that smile that rivals the sunshine.

Weekday mornings aren’t all fun and games – we have things to do and places to be. But we sure enjoy getting there together and finding the fun in the routine.

fullsizerender.jpgWe learned through trial and error that Little Dude must get dressed right away on a weekday morning. It just seems to take the stress off knowing at least one of us (the most high maintenance, let’s be real) is ready to go. It’s my job to wash his hands and face and change his diaper and onesie. It seems so mundane, but I cherish this time the most. It’s a small act of nurturing that only he and I share. We talk and laugh, play peek-a-boo with the towel, and look at ourselves in the mirror.

Little Dude enjoys his walker while I prep his milk and my coffee. Take too long with either one and someone ends up in tears. I love seeing where he ends up each day and whether he will work himself out of a jam.

Usually, Daddy does the feeding while I pump. I seem to always be pumping. But at least I get the sound of Little Dude’s laughter as he and Daddy talk and play. Sometimes, on a lazy morning, they’ll just cuddle and watch the news.

When I originally strategized about going back to work, I envisioned leaving the house bright and early and leaving well before rush hour. That doesn’t always happen. Some days it still frustrates me to sit in traffic and watch  minutes we could be taking a walk or playing blocks tick away. On the other hand, I’m not sure I’d trade in my mornings to buy a little extra time on the flip side. Because I’m the one who gets to build the foundation for the day, regardless of who takes it from there.

 

I Am One Person, and There are 24 Hours in a Day.

Day one of my personal challenge to find 30 minutes of me time a day was a lesson in why I needed this challenge. Badly.

I work a desk job. I must commute to work. However, I am fortunate enough to work for a company that is sympathetic toward working mothers. This allows me a certain amount of wiggle room when circumstances arise. When Little Dude has a big doctor’s appointment and I also have an appointment the same day, for instance, I can plan ahead to work from home. It’s a privilege I don’t take lightly, and one that I try not to abuse.

On this particular day, I was reminded that there are, indeed, only 24 hours in a day, and that I must choose wisely how to allot my time.

This was the plan for the day:

  • Drop in on an old co-worker.
  • Take Little Dude to an ultrasound at the hospital. He had an infection three months ago and it was a routine followup.
  • Get hair done. I’ve been putting this off since I decided to do the “mom chop” right before Christmas.
  • Visit doctor to figure out why the heck my hands won’t stop tingling and going numb. It started mid-pregnancy and has only gotten worse. Picture walking around 24/7 feeling as if your hand fell asleep. This wasn’t originally on the agenda, but I got chewed out by several people close to me about neglecting my health. Again.
  • Therapy appointment.
  • Make and/or eat dinner.
  • Somehow squeeze in 5 30-minute pumping sessions so my kid can eat.
  • Somehow corral a 6 month old until Aunt J comes over and/or Dad gets home.
  • Somehow complete my 8-hour work day.

I mean, other than maybe losing a little sleep, it was do-able, right?

I’m not even going to analyze all the ways that my plans were doomed from the start. I think we’re all intelligent and can guesstimate the math. Suffice to say it is now 11 PM and, well…I think I burned a little sick time today.

But my hair looks awesome, so we’ll call today a half-win. I did have to rock a cranky, over-tired Little Dude who fought sleep the entire time I was at the hairdresser’s, but even Rome wasn’t built in a day!

IMG_3596

Ignore the bags under the eyes and the cranky infant in the back seat (not pictured here). No more mom chop!

You Have to Start Somewhere

My name is Jennifer. I am a mother of one, but before I was a mother, I was a lot of other things: student, teacher, employee, girlfriend, wife, dreamer, thinker, and doer. Since Little Dude was born almost seven months ago, I have been trying to find myself again – to find the new me amid the wonderfully chaotic turn my life has taken.

I would love for you to join me on my journey as I explore how best to balance work, home, and me time. Oh yeah, and Exclusively Pumping 5-6 half-hour sessions a day to partially supply my son with milk. It will not be easy, but it will be real.

To kick things off (and maybe motivate me to actively post for a few days), I invite you to join my 30×30 challenge!

One of the things I struggled with from day one, and still struggle with more than I care to admit, is taking me time. And no, we aren’t talking peace and quiet to fold the laundry time, but genuine kick-back-and-do-something-just-for-me time. I feel like that’s one of the first areas of my life to suffer when my plate gets full.

Over the next thirty days, I will explore and share thirty ways to take thirty minutes of me-time to relax, have fun, and rejuvenate. Because really, we all should be able to find thirty minutes for ourselves in day. In theory.

Oh yeah, and I’m totally counting starting this blog as today’s me time. It’s only sort of cheating, right?

post