You know how I use this blog to rant about stuff? Well, I have family with rantings needs also. This one comes from my sister with a true, heartfelt confession. I was super mad about the injustice of it all, at first! And then, super sad. Let’s be super sad together?
Back to Work or Survival Instructions of Newbie Working Mom
So, I survived the first full week of work after being “fortunate” to have spend [only] 6 months [half of them unpaid] of maternity leave with my firstborn daughter. That makes me feel like a seasoned veteran and I feel obligated to share my experience with other mombies (that’s what I call working moms, which is derivative of zombie) to send a message: you’re not alone! Take the comfort in that and also in knowing that if we survive the work-life non-balance, we can (with most certainty) survive the Armageddon.
On a designated Friday, I thanked America for its nonexistent law on paid parental leave, collected my tears, snot, and baby memories (this mix is inseparable sometimes) and presented my body at the office. I say body because my heart, soul, and probably most of the brain remained with the baby. Why Friday? – Some naive souls may ask (and they did). Well, it’s the best day to give your body sort of a trailer of what it will feel like when you leave your newborn with a stranger, run on no sleep, commute for 2 hours (plug your number), force your brain to function for over 8 hours, should carry on small talks with some coworkers you don’t necessarily like, and must remain calm and polite to those around you. And I did it! Really, I feel like I deserve an Oscar or at least a nomination or just a night of uninterrupted sleep, as all of us moms do.
As any good actress would, I prepared for that big day. I secretly cried days before to make sure that I have no tears left when it comes to business. Just kidding (no, not really). I spent all the time I could with my precious little girl, trying to do fun stuff with her, memorize each day, enjoy her little personality in the daylight because way too soon, I’d only see her in the dark of the night or during very short weekends. Now, that realization brings me to tears again, so back to my first work days.
My husband drove me to work for the first couple of days. I suspect he could sense that I could turn back home half way through if I was left unattended, which is quite a possibility. So, his presence was reassuring and his talk kept me distracted enough not to have a meltdown. Also, I didn’t have a waterproof mascara.
The first day at the office was a blur of welcomes from my work friends, administrative tasks, and ways to figure out my pumping routine. Yes, remember my post on boobs? Now, they really took on a life of their own. They have a designated time for their daily meetings with my precious pump. I never thought I’ll feel so attached to a soulless machine, but I am. It’s these pumping sessions that make me feel still needed and connected to my baby daughter.
On that note, I want to thank America again. If we had a law protecting jobs for new parents for at least a year (like many civilized countries do) lots of good things would have happened for the families and society overall. To name a few, mothers would be healthier emotionally raising their newborns and physically avoiding all kinds of boob issues connected to plugged milk canals and back problems related to lagging pump bags to work every day. Babies would grow happier receiving full attention and care of their mommies at such tender age and healthier consuming mother’s milk for at least a year. Society would benefit because there would be less medical claims and sick days taken to care of a 3 or 4 or 5 months old who got a virus at a day care. I’m not even talking about the benefits to fathers or single parents. Enough with my rant! Shouldn’t I feel “lucky” to have spent a whopping 6 months with my baby?..
So, after my first full day at work, came a full work week. That was much tougher! No more cheers and hugs from coworkers, no more easy administrative tasks to take care of. I was expected to do real work and meet real deadlines while also discreetly finding time to pump milk 3 times a day (at least that’s my goal for now). I’ll admit, I was a little bit petrified because it felt that with the birth of the baby my adult brain was gone. Amidst burps, diaper changes, baby cooes and smiles, I seeemed to have forgotten about the outside world and its functions. But that first week at work, my body surprised me yet again with its ability to run on some kind of survival mode with very little sleep and my brain bounced back showing me that I’m capable of much more than being a mom. I’m a superwoman! No, I’m a working mom, a wife, a daughter, a sister, a businesswoman, a friend… As many women, I can continue this list, which means way more than any set of superpowers because we are human, but we never stop to reinvent and push ourselves. We evolve, grow and adapt as our roles in life change.
I should stop on this high note and want to give an unsolicited word of advice to those who are due to come back to work from a parental leave. Don’t freak out! Things will come back to you, maybe slowly but they will. Take one day at a time. Give yourself a pat on the back at the end of each day and don’t be too harsh on yourself. Take it from a mouth of a perfectionist who has accepted that individual sanity and happiness are way more important than perfection. Well, except that I think that my daughter is perfect 🙂