I know what you are thinking. “How am I going to do this?” You are ending your maternity leave just as you are starting to get into a rhythm. You’ve mastered many one-handed tasks, you’ve figured out a way to shower AND brush your teeth on a regular basis once again. You’ve learned that you can still function on very little sleep (maybe not well, but functioning better than the first few weeks anyway).
Maybe you’ve overcome breastfeeding hurdles and are now a champ in your own right. Perhaps you’ve been using formula and you can now wash, and prepare numerous bottles in no time flat! You’ve talked about the color, consistency and frequency of poop more than you ever thought you would.
You’ve had a tiny hand grip your finger, you’ve witnessed a first smile, you’ve been stared at with the most beautiful and trusting eyes. You’ve felt overwhelming joy the kind that makes your heart skip a beat and tears flood your eyes. You never knew you were capable of this kind of love.
You are a new mom and it has quickly become a labor of love and the most rewarding job you’ve ever had. Speaking of jobs… before your new role you had another role in a profession that you’ve had time away from. Now you have to wrap your brain around alarm clocks, business attire, meetings, deadlines, emails, and giving a rat’s ass about something other than your perfect baby. And you’ve lined up your baby’s care while you are at work.
I’m not going to sugar coat it and tell you it will be easier than you think. I’m not going to pretend that it will get easier for you as time goes by. If I did say those things I’d be a stone cold liar. Leaving your baby for the first time as you soldier on to work will probably be one of your hardest days. Make sure you give yourself plenty of time to spend with your baby in case you need a few extra snuggles before you leave. Be sure to have your makeup bag handy in case you need to freshen up after a good cry. Be sure to have your fake smile ready on queue while you are at the office and be sure to have plenty of pictures with you.
It will not be easy, but I can confidently say you will be fine. That much I promise. You will get through it and get through each day after that. You will charge hard at work and continue to be the top notch employee you always were. Of course no one has to know that in your team meeting you are daydreaming about a funny face your baby made that morning or counting down each minute until 5 o’clock when you can run out of there as fast as humanly possible. Not only because being at home is now your new favorite place in the whole world, but also because your boobs are so hard you could bounce a quarter off of them and you need to either feed your baby or pump those suckers out pronto!
You may have just gotten into a new mama rhythm while you were home with your baby, but now you find yourself in the new rhythm of a cleverly orchestrated routine managing your career and your family. Some days will seem easy as pie and others will leave you in tears.
I have been a full-time working mother for over a year now and I still have days where leaving my son at daycare pulls at my heart. I still have days where I hit my pillow at night and wonder how I managed to get through that day. I promise it might not get easier but it will get more manageable. You will become more flexible and resilient than you ever imagined. You will be more efficient at work and slow down more at home. You will find balance.
The answer to your question, “How will I do this?” is simple. You just will. You are a mom now and you are amazing. Just think about what you’ve accomplished up to this point that has probably surprised you. Pregnancy, labor, newborn hurdles. You’ve made it this far and your abilities and strength will continue to grow.
For what it is worth, here is my humble advice to you:
- Plan ahead – Have things ready to go for the next day the night before.
- Ask for help – I know you are Wonder Woman and you CAN do it by yourself. But that does not mean that you should. If your husband is anything like mine then I’m sure you already make a great team and help each other out. Just be sure to ask for more help from hubby or others on occasions that you need it.
- Take care of yourself – Easier said than done when you are juggling the demands of motherhood, work and your marriage. Often times we don’t realize we aren’t taking care of ourselves until we hit a wall. Just take some time to do something you love, take a break, workout, visit a girlfriend, whatever you need just make sure you do it from time to time.
- Remember that your baby’s needs are being met – Other people are NOT “raising” your baby. You are their mother and you raise your baby. The people that spend the day with them are care takers keeping your baby fed, clean, and safe. You give your baby everything else it needs to thrive.
So, take a deep breath, put your big girl panties on, and forge ahead. You are in good company and there is a network of other working mothers to commiserate with or give atta girl high fives with. We’ve been there and we’ve survived to tell the tale.
My thoughts are with you as you take this next step. Chin up, mama! You will be fine.
Kendra is a full-time working mom to a precocious toddler and one on the way. At My Full-Thyme Life she writes about her attempts to balance her cherished roles as wife, mom and key employee. You can also find her thoughts in 140 characters or less at @myfullthymelife