Sunday, February 10, 2013

The working mom woes

Wow. I'm terrible at blogging. I wasn't awesome at it before having a kid and now with the kid, I'm even worse. I started this blog after my first week back at work, so over a month ago, and never finished or published it. So while Graham is napping on this Sunday afternoon, I made it my mission to finish it.

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I'm not going to lie, I definitely shed a few tears on my way to work on that first Monday morning. It was not easy to leave my baby boy. One of the positive aspects of having a 45 minute commute is that I have a lot of time to think (this can also be negative, too, depending on my mood).

I had 45 minutes to talk myself out of feeling sad and talk myself into feeling really lucky and blessed. So I did. And it worked! And the glass half-full attitude lasted all week long. And to be honest, it wasn't a stretch because I really am lucky and blessed.

I was feeling a lot of emotions on that first day back to work but some of the emotions I wasn't feeling were fear, guilt and worry. I am lucky to have my father-in-law watching Graham so I didn't have to worry for a second that Graham wasn't going to be well taken care of.

I didn't have to feel guilty about leaving Graham with a stranger and wondering if he would be scared or feel unsure about who he was with. And I didn't have to fear that the person taking care of him wouldn't love him or do things with his best interest in mind.

So the first week went really well. The positive attitude remained, the work days flew by, I was super busy and it was really nice being around my coworkers again - I really work with a great group of people!

But by week number two, I was feeling worse than I did during the first week. I cried more during week two than I did during week one.

The new schedule was and still is a huge adjustment for all of us. Graham has never been an awesome napper, but as I'm learning, he naps the best for me. And unfortunately for all of us, when he hasn't napped well during the day, he is not enjoyable to deal with in the evening.

So after spending all day waiting to see him and wanting to soak up every second with him that I can, I get home to a tired, fussy, baby who wants nothing but to take a nap. And it makes working so much harder for me.

I had the luxury of being home with him for three whole months so I know exactly when his happiest and most fun moments are, and those are not the moments I'm getting in the evenings. Whenever someone asks me how I'm doing being back at work, my answer is simple. I love my job, but I love being a mom more and I would trade in working to be at home with him in a heartbeat if we could afford it.

All the moms that have been through this tell me, it will get better and it just takes time. Well, I will be the first to admit that I am a control freak and I'm horrible at waiting it out and letting things settle in. When there is a problem - I want to solve it right away and I want to be the one working on it, not someone else.

So even though we are super lucky having Pat's dad being the one to watch him during the day, I still want that person to be me. Because no one else is ever going to do things exactly like I would, and that is so hard for me.

I want to be at home figuring out what I can do to improve Graham's bad napping and I want to make it my mission to figure out what needs to be done to fix it. I'm not naive enough to believe that if I were home everyday that he would all of the sudden become the world's best napper. But at least then I wouldn't drive myself crazy wondering, "what if we tried this," or "would this have helped?"

I knew there was one thing I could do differently to help Graham get some more sleep. I had been waking him up at 6 a.m. Not because I had to, but because I so desperately wanted that time with him. I wanted to be the one giving him his first bottle and I wanted to have that hour with him before I left for work.

And it was wonderful. It was a great way to start my day and if the evenings were bad, at least I had that hour in the morning with him. But then I realized how selfish that was to wake him up when I really didn't have to and take away an extra hour in the morning he could be sleeping.

So I stopped. And it honestly broke my heart to do it! I think that was why the second week back to work was so much harder than the first, because I was losing that extra time with him. I only see him for about five minutes in the morning to wake him up and change his diaper. :(

So now if he has to nap in the evening to make up for lost naps during the day, which he almost always does, I'm only getting about two hours with him a day.

It's just not enough. I don't know how working moms do it. I just can't imagine two, or even three, hours in the evening with him during the week ever being enough.

Full disclosure - I'm a spoiled brat. I get a work from home day on Thursdays. I know how lucky I am and I absolutely love that day. Because he still naps three times a day (and because he naps pretty well for me), I actually do get a lot of work done, too.

I'm so very thankful to have this extra day with him and I know that it should be enough and I shouldn't be complaining, but even with that extra day with him, I STILL don't feel like it's enough. When I am with him, I am the absolute happiest I have ever been in my entire life. 

Some women say they could never be a stay at home mom - they think working makes them a better parent and they need that balance and adult interaction. I can totally see and appreciate that perspective. In fact, I had the same perspective before Graham was born. I used to say the same thing.

But now that he is here, I know I am not one of those people. Although I do get satisfaction and enjoyment out of completed projects and a job well done, my self-esteem doesn't come from my work and I feel like the most important job I could ever have is being Graham's mom.

Now I just need to figure out how I can manage to spend every day doing it.