Work + Motherhood

Three months and two days ago I went back to work full time after having Simon and taking 4 months off. I work in a fairly demanding job and the transition back has been, I’ll just admit it, hard. Emotionally more than anything.

I thought that I would want to return to work earlier than I did, banging down the door to head back to adult conversations and projects that make me feel valued… but instead, I found immense pride in being a mom and found value that I didn’t know existed, at home. I had a difficult time for the first few weeks after I had Simon and then, magically, something shifted and being a mom clicked. Maybe it wasn’t magic, maybe it was sleeping more than 2 hours at a time… either way, motherhood clicked and a rhythm set in. I’m starting to think that I’m going to do ok at this motherhood gig after all.

I’m realizing that there is a fine balance to making life work as a full time professional in Corporate America and feeling good about my responsibilities as a mom. Some days I feel like I’ve mastered the balance and other days I want to crawl under my desk and cry. This isn’t easy and neither job is going to come off my plate, nor do I want it to.

I’m finding that operating as a solid employee and a great mom is going to take a significant amount of effort and that some days I’ll be a rockstar and some days I’ll be mediocre. Many days I’ll probably be a duck, calm on the outside (or trying to be) and paddling like hell to stay afloat.

The pride and legitimacy I once found at work I now find in being a mom. That’s not to say that work isn’t important to me anymore – it absolutely is. It’s not just a paycheck, I get satisfaction out of delivering something that matters. I like the validation of a job well done and appreciate the recognition when I add value. I like the work that I do and the people that I work with. I want to keep doing it, no question (ok, some question – I mean, if money were no object I’d make a damn good volunteer…).

Giving myself the time to figure it all out is harder than I expected. I’m having to remind myself that it’s only been 3 months. That it’s ok to ask for help or to not take on as many projects as I have in the past. It’s ok to not give 110% at work right now – I keep telling myself that setting boundaries is OK.

I am hard on myself when it comes to work, wanting to ensure that I bring value to my team and pull my weight amongst my peers. I have been told that I might be being too honest about my struggle – that no one sees it and, until I admit it, that it’s not an issue. I have mixed feelings though. I wear my heart on my sleeve and maybe it’s not the most professional, but it’s who I am. I have always been an open manager and now I am also admitting that I’m going through a change that needs time.

Do you think there’s such a thing as over-sharing when you have an open relationship with your supervisors? Is admitting that you are trying to find balance the same as admitting defeat?

I don’t feel that I am admitting defeat, I feel that I am admitting that I need time. I have pride in my work, so I want to do my best job when I am at work. I also have a fervent desire to be present with Simon – to do my best job when I am playing the role of mom. I can’t be “balls to the walls” all of the time – I just can’t. I have a feeling that finding the balance will be an ongoing struggle. I hope that one of these days I’ll start to feel confident that I’ve found it and I’ll be nimble enough to adjust when I need to have more focus in a specific area. Right now that seems REALLY far away.

I know that many moms struggle with finding the same balance. How do you manage your demanding job and your demanding role as mom? Your advice, as always, is welcome and I would love to chat in the comments.

Congrats to Anne S. who won the Snapper Rock giveaway!


6 thoughts on “Work + Motherhood

  1. I remember being in your shoes and struggling with the sadness, guilt and confusion of wanting it all (not being able to accomplish it) and not having the support system I needed. You new perspective with make you an amazing mom and leader. You are doing great.

  2. I personally do not have as much of the struggle of home with E vs. work as you have mentioned. But having a child has put me more in balance with what is important. 60+ hours of work a week does not happen any more. But I am more efficient with my time at work and I still get my job done. I also remind myself that my 80% is someone else’s 110%.

  3. Mara, this post is SO well written. I love it. You’re the best mom. I seriously dread going back next month. A lot. So much so that I can’t bring myself to read profiles on I am going to be pinging you like crazy. You are also the best manager (I know from personal experience). I know that you’re just being hard on yourself and I bet you’re still giving 110% percent. But really, let’s quit and start a company. Ha. xox

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