I remember the last few days of my pregnancy very well. As our April 16th due date inched closer, we wrapped up lots of “last minute” things around the house: finishing touches in the nursery, organizing kitchen cabinets, tree trimming, installing the carseat, learning how to use all the “baby gadgets” we were given. And by our April 14th appointment with our midwife, we came to the realization that Baby C was going to take after mom…punctuality was not important.
So, I continued working. I desperately clung to each working day, wanting to wait until the very last possible minute to start maternity leave, because I wanted as much time at home as possible. Finally, my midwife advised that I should just go ahead and begin leave. By continuing to work, I could end up delaying my own labor. I needed to be home relaxing (which, in hindsight, really was a blessing).
I was anxious and sad about starting leave before Baby C arrived; I was so sure that I would waste a week or two still being pregnant. I started my leave on a Wednesday, and at 2:30a that Sunday (five days past our due date) my water broke. But, that’s another story… J
I spent 10½ weeks at home, 10 of which I enjoyed with our sweet Miles. Then, the day arrived: back to the grind. It was a bittersweet feeling; I had a fair amount of sadness, guilt and fear about Miles starting daycare – but I was also excited to be back at work, knowing I would be just a few blocks from Miles during the day. This put an extra layer of guilt to my Emotional Sandwich, because I kept thinking to myself, “Why am I excited about going back to work?!”
Some women were made to be stay at home moms (Carol Brady); some women were made to be career moms (Murphy Brown), and some women (most that I know, myself included) thrive on a combination of both work and home life. I love Miles endlessly, and love every single second of every minute of every hour I spend with him…but I also enjoy my career and the challenges it brings. I recognize the blessing of a two income household, and consider all the things we’ll be able to do for our children because of that choice. For us, the small sacrifice of working during their early years will be worth it down the road.
But that first day back to work…man, was it tough. Evan went with me to drop Miles off at daycare that morning. I felt good about our daycare choice; it’s an excellent, faith based daycare, with the most incredibly loving staff. I knew Miles was in good hands. But me? Sheesh…I was getting ready to head back to Corporate America.
I cried my New Mom tears as I hugged Miles goodbye. I reassured him I would be back, and told him how much fun he would have. He smiled and cooed, not the least bit concerned about me leaving. I made it to the truck, and the waterworks began.
The next few days grew gradually easier. Then, I began to notice something at drop-off and pick-up…I had joined a new club. Working moms and dads came and went, hugging their kids, telling them they’d be back in the afternoon, reminding them of how much fun they’d have at daycare/preschool that day, and it was all smiles. The walk back to the parking lot was sometimes smiley, and sometimes not, but one thing was common: we all gave each other that knowing “working parent” look.
There is a sense of camaraderie among the Working Parent Club. We all have the same struggles: mental, physical and emotional. We are the ones who will let the dinner dishes wait until 11p, because we can get an extra hour of playtime with our babies. We are the ones who will still read “Goodnight Moon” six times, even though we’ve been mentally taxed for the better part of the day. We are the ones who will cry both tears of sadness and joy when the gal at daycare tells us our baby rolled over, pulled up, walked, talked, or tied his shoes on his own. We are the ones who will work extra hours, take an extra case load, or push for that bonus, just to ensure we have the most wonderful summer vacation imaginable. We are the ones who can make a few hours of time together the most awesome, incredible, fun-filled hours ever…and the weekends even better.
Yes, we share the knowing looks, smiles and chatter with each other in the parking lot, because we know we are not alone in our struggles. The Working Parent Club is just another extension of family, and an incredible blessing to have in good times and not-so-good times. These are the people who know exactly what you’re going through without explanation, and are there for you without hesitation.
And, they understand why you bought the extra-extra large iced coffee with the double turbo shot from Dunkin’ Donuts.