First you have the guilt about how you birthed your baby. Next up is whether or not you breastfeed. And then comes if you have to go back to work and leave your baby with some kind of child care provider. Depending on where you live, these people are called nannies, babysitters, day care workers, or if you are really lucky, Grandma. Guilt. Guilt. Guilt. It's inevitable for most of us. We all feel it but how we feel it, meaning how much and how much we let it really get to us, is key. Don't. Just don't let it get to you.
Easy to say, I know. I went back to work when my twins were 12 weeks old because for my family, staying home wasn't an option. We needed my health insurance and my income in addition to my husband's in order to keep our lives afloat. In NYC, many families opt for a nanny, who comes to your home and takes care of the little ones while you are working. Having a nanny was weird to me, at first.
I used to think only the richest of the rich could afford nannies, and moms used them so they could go get pedicures and eat salads laced with diamonds with a gold fork. But I quickly learned that wasn't true. Like with anything, things aren't always what they seem in the movies. We hired a lovely woman who came highly recommended by another family who had twins and she became like family.
Though I still had the guilt. Worried they loved her more. Sad that I would maybe miss the first step, the first word, the little moments that should be mine. But I made peace with it and pressed on though when I would hear rumblings from others who felt that a working mother who leaves her child with a nanny (or any child care provider) is less of a mom, I will admit that it stung. Hit me right in the guilt. Played on that nerve and hurt.
And yes, that's because for me, I wanted to be home with them, but it wasn't an option at that time. Late last year, my husband and I made some big family decisions and rearranged our lives, including a big move out of NYC, so I could be a stay at home mom ... who freelance writes. Having been a working mom and a SAHM, I see how it's all hard work with both "types" of moms still being the best mom they can be because they are doing what's right for their family, their situation. Just because a mom has to work, that doesn't take away from her being a mother. Working moms find creative ways to stay in the loop with their kids while they are away at work. I met one mom who used her nanny cam to see her kids when she would call them during the day.
It's the hardest when faced with the decision that you have to go back to work -- your maternity leave is over if you even have one. That first day back, that week, is the toughest. But you establish a relationship with the person (or people) who care for your baby while you are away and it's using the "village" to raise a child. It does take a village.
Just like we have to move on from the mommy guilt, we have to make peace with our decisions, what we need to do. We shouldn't judge others because they are doing something different than what we are doing. We should celebrate all mothers who are doing the best they can. We should try to be softer, nicer, understanding of each women's unique situation. Motherhood should bond us, not divide.
To all the working moms, about to head back to work after baby, I wish you the best -- you're a great mom and your baby will always love you more than any caretaker. I promise. My kids have already forgotten our nanny's name ... well, okay they didn't, but they know who mama is and our bond is solid.
Have you had a hard time missing your baby once you went back to work? Or maybe are dreading that time when it does happen? How have you dealt with it?
Image via photographybyjoelle.com/Flickr