This Working Mom Roller Coaster Needs Tighter Seat Belts

4 years ago

As I boarded my roller coaster of emotion Tuesday morning, I felt pretty good. I told myself returning to work from maternity leave would be different this time around. I really believed it would be easier because this isn’t my first experience. I know what to expect. I know what problems came up the first time, so I already have solutions prepared. At least I thought I had prepared for whatever could come up…

The universe had a different message for me.


It sent me a flat tire on the way to work. I handled it ok… at first. I tried to roll with it. But, it wasn’t long until I started to lose it.

Maybe I lost it because I didn’t mentally prepare myself for the emotions since I thought returning to work would be easy this time. Perhaps I was a bit ambitious in my planning for the first day and over-committed myself. Or, could it be all of these crazy ass postpartum hormones? Of course, it’s certainly feasible that the lack of sleep played a factor. Who knows? All that I do know is that it sucks. Being a working mom SUCKS. At least if you wish you were a stay-at-home mom.

But, I’m not a stay-at-home mom. So, I have to find a way to do right by the company that has hired me to work for them while still being there for my kids as much as they need me.

But... right now, I don't feel like I'm there for my baby. All that my little guy knows is that he has spent every waking (and sleeping) minute either in my arms or in my view. Then, one day -- poof -- I’m gone, and I can’t explain any of it to him because he is a baby. He can cry as hard as he wants for me (sometimes babies do just want mommy), but I can’t hear him. Eventually, he will learn that sometimes I’m just not around so that’s why I don’t respond to him when he wants me. It breaks my heart. It makes my emotional roller coaster short circuit, and it makes me angry.

I’m angry on so many levels. I’m mad that I allowed myself to be in this situation again. I’m upset that my company thinks I should be ok, so I have to play it off like I am. I’m furious that the US doesn’t value families the way other countries do.

Did you know that the US is 1 of only 4 countries that doesn’t have a specific paid paternity leave law?

But… they spend millions to push breastfeeding as a public health initiative. You know… because BREASTfeeding is SO easy while your nipples are at work and your baby is in daycare.

I think it’s really sad that a superpower country such as the US doesn’t focus more on families. I mean, why do companies even want mothers who have little babies at home working for them anyway?

Think about a typical day for a working mother who is still trying to “breastfeed.”

The day goes as such:

  • Arrive at work a few minutes late due to chaos getting out of the house.
  • Make your presence known at work -- “I’m here. I’m working... I promise.”
  • Head to the bathroom to touch up streaking mascara from crying all the way to work.
  • Call to check on baby.
  • Check watch -- time to pump already.
  • Do a questionable amount of work.
  • Think about how much you miss your baby.
  • Try not to cry.
  • Time to pump again...
  • Lunch hour (contemplate leaving and never coming back…)
  • Attempt some more work, but decide to make a “quick call” to see how baby is doing.
  • Breathe into a paper bag (you could hear baby screaming and crying in the background during the phone call)
  • You “let down” so… time to pump again!
  • Have trouble staying awake to do work.
  • Begin to worry that you’re going to get fired.
  • Try to focus.
  • Try to focus.
  • Wonder if baby has stopped crying. Best to call just to check…
  • Brainstorm financial alternatives to working away from your baby.
  • Get depressed when there’s no obvious solution.
  • Go home.
  • Repeat.

Yes, I realize that the first few days are the hardest, and it does get easier.  It gets easier because I get used to being away from my baby, and he gets used to being away from me and that makes me sad. I think this roller coaster could use some tighter seat belts…


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