Cheers to you, working mommies...
I literally sobbed the entire way to work after handing my precious four-month-old baby girl over to the babysitter knowing that I wouldn’t see her again for another ten hours, when the day’s work was done. I had no idea it would be that hard. We had found a gentle, kind and loving sitter for our sweet girl. She grew much of her own food in the garden in her back yard; she was soft-spoken; and she always greeted us with a smile. She loved babies, and even had a baby of her own on the way. We knew she would take such good care of our newborn.
Still it was one of the most heart wrenching things I had ever had to do. My husband, with his strong hand rubbing my shoulder, offered delicate words of assurance as we made our fifteen minute drive to work. As soon as my lunch break hit, I whipped out my cell phone and sent the sitter a text asking how my baby was doing. She lovingly responded with pictures and words of assurance that all was well. For the rest of my break time, I filtered through recent pictures on my cell phone, tearing up again and again at how much I missed my girl.
I have always been a workaholic. My first job was at a Taco Bell when I was 14 years old. I was an ambitious preteen and was ready to jump right in. They hired me without noticing my birth date on the application. Since that time, I have always had a job. I have always worked hard, and I have always done well in the work place.
I’ve also always been a firm believer in early education. I have worked extremely hard to attain success in my field (early education), and to provide teachers and children with everything they need to be successful in the early educational environments in which I have had the pleasure of being involved.
So because of being in the work place for so long, and also due to being a big believer in children attending excellent early educational institutions, I really never saw myself as wanting to be at home with my own kiddos. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to be with my babies, I just never really thought of doing that since I have always been in the work place. I especially had never thought through what I would want for that first year or two after the baby was born.
That fifteen minute car ride (which felt like an hour and a half) changed my perspective completely. Although I was certain my daughter would be well cared for, I just couldn’t imagine sending her off even the next day, let alone every day for the next, well, however long it took to figure out another option. But at the time, that was the only option. The hubby had another three years for working on his PhD, which limited his opportunity for income at the time. So during that time period, I was the bread-winner (so-to-speak). Thankfully I was at a job I enjoyed, and when my daughter turned one, she would be able to come to the child development center where I worked. So I clung to that. Well that and the hope that eventually I would have the opportunity to be at home with my baby and any future babies. I began to really crave the opportunity to soak up those beginning stages of life with my little one.
So. The Working-Mommy Life.
Life as a working mom is really hard. My kiddo was seemingly the perfect child to me, but the onnnneeee hiccup was that she did not sleep. She woke up multiple times per night, every night, no matter what we ever tried, until she was 18 months old. That made for some REALLY tired parents. I remember waking up with her 3-4 times every night, then getting up for work at 5:30 in the morning, coming to work and teaching a class of twenty children ages 3-4 years, driving across town to pick her up from the sitter, finally getting home, making dinner, getting her cleaned up and ready for bed, getting everything ready for the next day, and finally collapsing for a few hours before we would begin the whole process again. Day after day after day. Thankfully my hubby was an involved one. We worked at it together. But it was still very difficult.
As she got older, I remember being exhausted and completely spent after a hard day’s work. Still I would pull myself onto the floor to play with her in the evenings. I felt terribly guilty for giving everything I had to my students throughout the day, and feeling like I hardly had anything left to give to my hubby and daughter at the end of every day. They were the two people who meant the absolute most to me, and I felt as though I was giving them my leftovers day after day. No amount of coffee, fruits and veggies, or anything else could give me the enough energy to sustain me from the early morning into the evening. And the lack of sleep definitely didn’t help.
So what do you do when you’re between a rock and a hard place?
You change your perspective, and you make it work the best you can.
At least that's what I did.
What I chose to do was to literally cherish every single moment I had with my hubby and baby girl. Every single moment. I cherished the bath times, I cherished the moments of watching her wobble throughout the house, I cherished the last few minutes of the day with my hubby. In the middle of the night when she’d wake up yet again, I would instantly whisper to God, thank you for waking me up again to take care of my sweet girl. No, I didn’t always feel like it. My body was constantly in a state of exhaustion. But I could either choose to live in never-ending dread, or I could change my perspective. I didn’t want to look back and see myself hating the first few years of my mommy-life. So I chose to look at those years as utterly exhausting but also as a huge blessing.
So to all you working mommies out there: You can do it!
It is tiring, exhausting, and so beyond difficult at times. But you will only have this season of life once. One day, the kids will be grown, and you won’t be able to relive this experience. While your body is tired, know that you can cherish the small moments. You are blessed to have your little one(s). Although things may not be ideal right now, they could be so much worse.
So go ahead, relax, enjoy the soap suds and splashing in the bathtub! Leave the laundry for the weekend, or the next if you have to. Eat the unhealthy meal every now and then for a quick fix. Laugh at how tired you are, and how much coffee it takes just to keep you going every day. Stop and look, really look, into your little one’s eyes when you’re chatting (or babbling) in the evenings. Find the special moment in watching them play on the living room floor. Smile. Give them extra-long hugs and snuggles, sing an extra song before bed, laugh with them, get to really know what makes them smile or otherwise. Cherish all these tiny moments you have, so that one day you’ll look back and realize that not only did you make it through the tough times, but you also found the strength to enjoy the journey along the way. Whether you realize it or not, you’re building a special bond with your little one(s) that they will in turn cherish one day as well.
...and that’s my cue to go warm up my coffee. Again.
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