The decision to return to work after having a baby is a very emotional one. For some moms, they have to go back to work. Their family may depend on her income to make ends meet. For some moms, they choose to work. While the decision to work or not to work can be controversial and often at the center of the “Mommy Wars”, it is individual and personal.
I will admit that I honestly was not the little girl who grew up dreaming of the day I would become a mom. I have always been fiercely independent and driven. I spent the better part of a decade, including delaying marrying my best friend, in order to pursue my career.
Then I got pregnant with my son.
There are really no words to describe how much your world changes once you become pregnant and even more so once that baby is in your arms. During my whole first pregnancy, I weighed the pros and cons of going back to work and had lengthy discussions with my husband about the topic. For us (emphasis on US), we decided that I would take about 4 months off of work after our son was born and then I would go back to work no more than three days a week. Once you have that baby in your arms though, you’ll feel so many emotions and likely question that decision. When you have both a career and a child, the struggle is REAL!
The main things you must consider while deciding whether or not to return to work are 1. Do I NEED to work? 2. Do I WANT to work? 3. How will my work affect my child/children/family? Your answers to these questions will shape and direct your decision.
I am very blessed to be in a situation where I do not *have* to work. I could absolutely be a stay at home mom if that is what I chose. I am also blessed to have a career that I am deeply passionate about where I can work part time. Not everyone has this luxury. I wanted to work. I hope my son learns to respect a woman who desires to have a family and a career. I pray my daughter follows her dreams, and her passions, no matter what they be to the fullest extent. Working three days gives me the balance of family time and work time.
While ultimately I did return to work, and have worked since (minus maternity leave with my daughter), I can say that the struggle still exists. Every Sunday night, after three wonderful days with my babies, I struggle. After three days of no time crunches, no 5:30am wake up, no rushing out the door at 7:30am, no 5:00pm daycare pick up to rush home for dinner, baths, and bed… I want to stay home. Then every Monday around 8:30am, I see my co-workers and my first patient of the day. I engage in adult conversation and use the part of my brain that I spent so many years to develop and utilize. Now, I want to be at work. The struggle.
At the end of the day, I am neither a part time mom nor a part time worker. I am a mom. I have a job. Period. I made the decision to have both, and to each their own. Some moms stay home. Some work. Some do both. Whatever path you choose, do it with your whole heart. You don’t have to defend your decision either way. No matter what you decide, you will struggle. There will be good days. There will be bad days. There will be days you will wish you had chosen differently.
That’s why life is a journey and not a destination.