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Working Mamas

Striking an imperfect balance while losing the guilt.

We spend 9 months growing our babies and when we finally get to meet them, our body goes into overdrive to bond us for life. And then, just a few months later, we're expected to return to work. Completely ludicrous if you ask me. My body was still healing, my hormones still regulating and my emotions still adjusting to being a new mama. After 4 short months I returned to the daily grind of commuting and working in an office all day, every day. I remember dropping my baby boy off at daycare and bawling my eyes out daily all the way to work. It was extremely difficult and, not to be dramatic, but in a way, inhumane.

Canada and the UK give new moms an entire year of maternity leave, so why in the U.S. are we expected to return so quickly? By the time my baby was 4 months old, I was head over heels in love. Leaving him when he was so young felt like my baby was being ripped away from my heart. It was awful, but unfortunately necessary, because like most parents, I needed to work to make ends meet. The icing on the cake was the impending mom guilt.

Now I had heard of mom guilt, but never thought it would start so early. Leaving my baby with a stranger (luckily a wonderful, loving woman who is still his caregiver to this day) to raise him part-time was soul-crushing. I wanted to be there to see all his firsts. I wanted to be able to breastfeed him instead of pumping at work. I wanted to be able to nurture him fulltime during his formative first years. But that's sadly not the reality for most. I was consumed by the guilt of not being there for him. And as much as I, and my son, adore his caregiver, I still feel guilty when he says he wants to stay home with mommy, and I have to explain to him that he needs to go, because mommy needs to work.

Over the years I've adjusted, but that doesn't mean my heart still doesn't hurt when I drop him off (unless he's being a threenager, then it's a little easier :). I enjoy my job and appreciate that I can have a career and be a mom. Striking a balance between those roles though is challenging. Am I giving enough to succeed as both a respected professional and a great mom? The answer is sometimes, and that's ok. My child is always going to come first, but that doesn't mean I can give him all the time I would like to. I've accepted that I am never going to be a perfect employee or perfect mom, but I will continue to give both my all, even if that means I will fall down once and a while. Over these past 3 years, I've learned to pick myself back up without beating myself up. Modern-day moms have enough on their plates to not be burdened with guilt and self-loathing.

The trend of working from home, that started during the pandemic, has been amazing for me and my emotional wellbeing. Instead of spending hours in the car, I can spend more quality time with my little love. I have more flexibility to be able to care for him when he's sick, pick him up early if need be, and have occasional leisurely mornings snuggling with him since I can make up for worktime lost anytime. There are many work-from-home jobs available these days, which I find to be a blessing for moms who are trying to juggle it all.

If you're a busy, multi-taking, working mama, I understand the struggle is very real. I've learned that our kids don't need perfection, doing your best for them is enough. My little boy feels loved, seen, happy and safe, so even though I wish I had more time with him, I consider that a win. Go easy on yourself as we're all perfectly imperfect, and try to lose that mom guilt.


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