It was such a different feeling after my first baby. I spent my maternity leave tired, but full of snuggles and bonding time with my little girl. The thought of leaving her 4 days a week for over 10 plus hours a day was tough. I knew I wanted to keep working, to have that essential adult time, but I was also unprepared for how often I would feel a pull to be home with her. It was a constant inner battle. I think I felt this way until my first full day home alone with my second baby.
My husband returned to work after our second child after about a week. There I was, ready to figure things out all on my own. My newborn son was still in the ‘sleep all the time only wake up to eat’ phase so I was looking forward to that snuggling and bonding time I had with my daughter. Except this time, I had a two-year-old.
My daughter became this crazy combination of terrible twos and a jealous older sibling all in just a matter of minutes during that first day that she had to share her mommy with someone else. Suddenly, everything, and I mean everything, turned into meltdown city. It was one of the longest days ever. My husband came home visibly stressed after a long day back to work (to a business which he co-owns and operates). Most days I can understand how stressed he is coming home after dealing with so much at work but this day, this day I was at a breaking point. I think all he did when he got home was ask me how my day was… and I lost it. I started talking about everything that went so horribly wrong that day and how much I craved the days of my first maternity leave when I could just snuggle my adorable little baby. Before I had finished my synopsis of the day, I realized tears were coming down my face. I realized in that moment, I wouldn’t be counting down the days of my maternity leave with dread, but with anticipation.
I do have a greater appreciation for those moms that stay at home, I honestly don’t know how you do it. I was a few days short of pulling my hair out when it was finally time to return to work. Obviously, over the course of my maternity leave, my daughter’s behavior improved once she figured out this second kid wasn’t going anywhere. She and I figured out ways to make things work and she is really trying to understand the word ‘patience’. I know I am more tired now than I will probably ever be. My husband and I are doing alternate night feedings so at least one of us gets a full night of sleep every other night (even though the mom in me wakes up every night checking the monitor anyway). I get up at 5:30 in the morning to get ready for work, get the kids moving with my husband, and head off to work. I get home from work around 6:00 at night and try to take the kids for a walk before my husband gets home and we sit for dinner. It’s definitely hard work working full-time and being a mom, but it is totally worth it for me, for my sanity.
I love my kids more than anything, but I am totally fine with admitting the fact that I am not cut out to stay at home full-time. They are lucky to have alternating days with their grandparents and it makes the time I do have with my kids outside of work, that much better. I am excited to come home and see them and cuddle them. I look forward to our time on weekends together. I am not so utterly spent and overdone with kid time all week that I feel like I am only part of a mom. Working helps me feel like a stronger, more confident mom with the time I do have with my kids, while allowing me the adult time I need doing a job I worked very hard to obtain.
It may seem crass or cold that I am not so warm and fuzzy about spending every waking second with my children, but for me, it is more about putting value in myself. It is about admitting that I need adult time in order to be a happier person and therefore happier mom. It is about showing my kids that your world doesn’t have to revolve around them and that a mom doesn’t have to give up her work because she feels guilty not being at home. It is all about teaching my kids balance and showing them that I am happy working AND being at home with them. This may not be what works for other people, but this also shows my kids that you have to figure out what works best for you.