I have worked full time for the same company 8 years this month. It is a great place to work. It has grown from a small company to a much larger company, and I have grown with it both personally and professionally. It is also incredibly family oriented. Almost everyone I cross paths with either has kids, had them or is pregnant with one (or two) we joke there is something in the water since it is not uncommon for multiple people to be pregnant at once, when I was pregnant there were 4 others pregnant at the same time - and it isn't a huge company.
After having my daughter, I obviously changed. My focus and sense of place in the world changed. The first few months back to work I felt the heartbreak of leaving her intensely. I could not focus solely on work. I cried. A LOT. I could not just switch from mommy-mode into career woman mode. My thoughts were completely filled with my baby and I surrounded my work space with pictures of her. I also had to take frequent breast pumping brakes, those brakes got me behind in my work but they also helped to make me feel more connected to my baby and also further away. I was drained and exhausted. My mind was always on my daughter - how was she? What was she doing? Did she miss me? I miss her...I miss her... I miss her...I miss her.
I still accomplished my goals and kept up with my work load and my husband and I, along with the occasional help of my Mother were able to work together to take the time off needed for the various Dr. appointments and sick days (since it seemed she was sick from the second she entered daycare). Than my husband changed jobs and lost all vacation/personal time (for a year). This meant that I was the only one that could pick her up if she was sent home sick (My Mom needs advanced notice and even than it can be tricky). As is standard practice with most day cares, if she went home sick, that more than likely meant she would have to be out the next day as well. If that happened I was left frantically calling family members to see if she could stay with them. If they could not I would have to take that day off as well. I was the only one that could take her to Dr. Appointments and stay home with her for snow days, or days when the daycare was closed if my Mom (my only backup) was not available. I saved all my vacation and personal time for her. Fortunately, my work, especially my boss is incredibly understanding to my new demands as a Mother.
However, I have realized I am not the same kind of worker I used to be, I can't stay late to get my work done because I have to pick my daughter up from Daycare. So I come in early - everyday, and I often work through my lunch breaks. I feel so much guilt because I still think about her all day and wonder if she misses me, because I miss her…I miss her… I miss her. I also feel guilty that I am not able to perform at the same work level I used to. I never say no to a new work task or request, and I run myself ragged trying to meet deadlines. I feel abject failure if I do not meet the personal work goals I set for that day, and if I don't cross everything off my to-do list. I often feel like I am not as good of an employee as I once was, not as focused, not at dedicated. I have to always be ready to leave at the drop of a hat if daycare calls. Because she comes first and if she needs me I will be there.
So as review time drew near. I was scared. I had already missed 5 days due to weather, Dr. Appointments and stomach bugs, and we were onlya few months in to the New Year. Would my boss tell me how awful of an employee I have become, would he remark on my always tired eyes and sometimes distracted mind? Would I be scolded, or spoken to or let go?
So I walked into my review with a sense of dread and nervousness. And my boss did the strangest thing, he started to tell me that I was doing a great job he talked about my strengths. We discussed the goals for the new years and talked over ideas and strategies for work tasks. I talked about the difficulties I have faced at work since becoming a mother, and he completely understood. It was a great review!
I am not a horrible employee. I am actually a good employee.
Having to find the balance between work and Motherhood has been extremely difficult for me and I have to learn how to be less hard on myself. It is not always the best situation and one that we have very little choice in. So to end this, let’s get a little cliché. Sometimes in the process of making lemonade out of the lemons you are handed in life, you might get squirted in the eye a few times, you might even cut your finger on the knife while slicing up those lemons, and damn the citrus juice stings. But after all the hard work you put into it, it’s the best lemonade you have ever had. It may not be perfect – but who cares.