Thursday, March 10, 2011

Hindsight

My coworker in the office next to mine is back today from maternity leave after 3 months off.   She's a lot like me actually - we both have our masters in Higher Education Administration and we both did our undergrad at the University of Maryland only 4 years apart.  We both are passionate about higher education so when it came to making the decision as to whether we would continue working after having kids, we both knew working was something that was vital to who we are.  However, that doesn't make that first day (or year!) back any easier. 

I'll never forget my first day here 7 years ago.  Caroline was 10 weeks old.  10 weeks!  I'd been out of work for the summer since I'd left my previous job because it was a live on campus job in Res Life.  Money was starting to get very tight as we'd just bought the house and only having one salary wasn't cutting it.  So when I was offered the job, I didn't want to put it off and agreed to start at the end of February.  I had to scramble to find daycare and figure out all the things a working mom needs to figure out.  I remember asking my former supervisor if I'd have an office with a door knowing I'd need privacy to pump.  Thankfully, everyone was as nice as could be and the daycare provider we chose worked out well for Caroline as an infant.  (We later changed the following year.)  I still think back to the fact that I managed not only going back to work after having my first baby but starting a completely new job!!!  I get stressed just thinking about it now.

I know how hard those first few months were.  I doubted myself constantly.  Constantly.  I missed Caroline.  I felt like a terrible mom.  Oh the tears I cried.  But then, as time went on, it got easier.  We got into a routine and I really started enjoying my job.   And then came Bryce and Piper. It was hard each time I went back to work and I had the same feelings of sadness and doubt, but once we got into a routine again, things had a way of working out.

And here we are now, 7 years later.  I still have my days where I wish I was at home, but far fewer of them.  In fact, I never doubt my choice to continue working anymore.  The kids don't know anything different and we're no less a family than any other.  We spend a lot of time together and as Jason always predicted when the kids were babies, as they got older and could truly interact with us, it would get even easier.  He was right.  Now we can talk about things and laugh together.  We can go places and not have to put anyone in a stroller.  I'm really enjoying this non-baby family we have now.

I know that I couldn't have done it without the support of our parents either.  With my mom always doing at least one day a week of daycare with the kids and then my IL's doing 4 days a week starting 2 years ago, it's been one of the best things that could have happened.  Not only do I have trusted people taking care of my children, but my kids get to spend time with their grandparents and have their own relationships with them.  I love/loved my grandparents but I only ever had a "visiting" relationship with them and it brings such joy to my heart to see how much they enjoy spending time with mine and Jay's parents.

So on this first day back for my co-worker, I wish her all the best!  She'll have tough days and great days, but she'll make it work because it's for her and her family.  The choices we make for our families are our choices.  We know our situation and families the best.  It's not always easy, we figure it out.  Before she knows it, she'll turn around and have a 7 year old on her hands.

2 comments:

Bracken said...

I remember you starting your job...honestly my best hire of my career :)! I know it has been a struggle for you over the years to feel you could successfully have your professional career and be an awesome mom, but it is because you have always been concerned that you have learned to be great at both. It is great to hear you don't stress and question it as much. Knowing you and reading your blog (now that that we are 3000 miles apart), there is no question you are a fabulous mom and you have found the balance.

Erika said...

Thanks, Bracken! :) You totally helped make that transition easy.