Family

Mommy + Mind Update: 4 Months

June 23, 2015

BW_Madison and Ainsley

I’ve talked a little bit about going back to work after having a baby, but I realized that for the most part I’ve been pretty quiet about my return back to the working world and how our family has been adjusting to the change. Truth be told, before I became a mom I couldn’t have ever pictured myself even entertaining the idea of staying home with my baby. “Not for me! No way!” I would boldly proclaim. I was raised by a working momma and always assumed I would follow in her footsteps with my own family someday. Plus, that work I do? Well, it’s pretty darn great most of the time.

During maternity leave I found myself feeling a little lost and confused. I was all wrapped up in new-momma things like feeding schedules, naps, finding a way to get more sleep and working around the clock to nurture and care for my little person that was so helpless, cute and, let’s admit it, demanding.

As the days and weeks ticked by I felt conflicted about going back to work. On the one hand I was enjoying my days with Ainsley immensely. It was bliss to cuddle with her, grab lunch or coffee with friends, and take long walks outside as the weather transitioned into spring. Sure, the days were sometimes long, exhausting and certainly hard, but I really did love being home with my favorite girl. And then other days I felt, if I’m being honest, like a shell of the person I once was. My mind felt hazy and under-utilized and many days I felt like the passion I once had for work, food and life outside of baby-land was as dry as a dessert because I hadn’t been cultivating those passions. The old me who dressed up in “real-people” clothes every day and interacted with co-workers and spent time without a baby attached to her 24/7? I missed that person.

The first couple days after returning to work were extremely difficult. I missed my little buddy and the routine we had created over the 13 weeks I was home. And then, day by day, things started to get easier. Instead of feeling relieved by that, I was overwhelmed with guilt. Should I enjoy time away from my baby? Did this undercut the type of mother I was because I didn’t find total fulfillment in staying at home with Ainsley? Would Ainsley not love me as much because I wasn’t home with her every day?

As the weeks have passed, I’ve come to a much more peaceful place about work and motherhood and finding a balance in it all. I’m blessed to have a work schedule that allows me to be flexible and find balance between work and parenthood, which has made the transition easier.

I’m sure some would look at it and say that I’m selfish. After all, I get to manage my day the way I want, drink a full cup a coffee without interruption in the morning, dress up and have adult conversations while taking home a paycheck. Some would probably argue that it’s a noble choice: I’m providing for my daughter’s future, saving for her college and family vacations and experiences, setting an example that women can work outside the home and pursue both a family and a career.

It’s amazing how you can take the same situation and spin it in two entirely different ways, isn’t it? Before I was a mom I looked at things in black and white when it came to parenting. And then I became a parent and started to realize that the world is much more gray than I even realized.

Four months in, I couldn’t care less whether a mom decides to stay home with her kiddos or return to work. What’s right for one family? It might be totally wrong for another. I’m just thankful we all have the opportunity to blaze our own path and make decisions that are right for us, as different as that may look from family to family.

Madison

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19 Comments

  • Reply Emily @ Perfection Isn't Happy June 23, 2015 at 2:06 pm

    You’re not selfish at all! You have to do what’s best for you and your family. Everyone is different in the way they feel after birth, and I don’t think you really know until you experience it (or so I’m told). I’ve always imagined myself as a stay at home mom, but I do enjoy my job and the company I work for, and I’ve already started an open conversation with my boss, who’s been very accommodating and will let me discuss options — mainly working part-time from home — after my baby’s born. I’ll just have to see how I feel!

  • Reply Kelsey June 23, 2015 at 2:22 pm

    Thanks for this! I am expecting at the end of August, and am already torn up about going back to work. I was raised by a stay at home mom, so that’s what I always assumed I would be doing. Having my mind change on that a little bit makes me feel just a little guilty, but I know that there are people who do it and love it!

  • Reply Lindsey June 23, 2015 at 3:08 pm

    VERY well said! I think everyone is different and we cannot judge other Moms on what they do. I work full time too and like you I am happy with my decision, and refuse to feel guilty about it. I have also seen my daughter grow so much being around other kids all day so I know it is what is best for her as well, some days I joke she likes going to daycare more than being at home with us! haha

    • Reply MadisonMayberry July 7, 2015 at 2:00 pm

      Ha! Love that, Lindsey! I am SO thankful that Ainsley loves our childcare situation and seems to be really thriving and happy. It’s such a blessing, and I think you just have to keep a watch on how your kiddos are doing to know what is or is not working.

  • Reply Kate RoseS June 23, 2015 at 3:12 pm

    Studies have shown that children do best when their mothers are able to choose whether they stay home or work. Happy Moms produce happy kids. I’m glad you’ve made peace with your decision and are feeling good about it. And nothing says you can’t change your mind down the road! My best friend was sure she would stay home with her kids, but it turned out that she couldn’t stand it. She is a much happier Momma to her boys now that she’s working again. I hope to one day stay home with my kids, but who know how I’ll feel once I’m in that situation.

    I really enjoy your blog: the recipes, Stitch Fix reviews, baby updates, and everything else. Thanks for writing!

    • Reply Rachelle June 23, 2015 at 8:53 pm

      I didn’t know there were studies, but I was going to comment that doing whatever’s best for YOU is the best thing for your family because you will be happier and more fulfilled – which makes you a better mother no matter what you do.
      I’d love to see a work-life balance post once you get fully into the swing of things! It’s really hard for me to imagine adding a tiny human to the mix since I hardly have enough time during the week already! Trying to take care of someone other than myself in addition to work, commute, gym, cooking and cleaning seems impossible. Not to mention the sleep deprivation…

    • Reply MadisonMayberry July 7, 2015 at 1:59 pm

      Love this perspective, Kate! I had no idea about those studies, but I can certainly understand why that would be true. So thankful we live in a country and a time when we have the opportunity to blaze our own path and make decisions that are right for our own individual families. I never thought I would feel even the tiniest bit conflicted about my decision, but I did! And now that I’m back at work? I’m happy to be there, but I’m always a tiny bit torn. I think that’s the life of being a mom, right? That whole phrase about your heart being outside your body is so true!

  • Reply Katherine Kelly June 23, 2015 at 5:07 pm

    So so great…love this, Madison.

    • Reply MadisonMayberry July 7, 2015 at 1:57 pm

      Thanks, Katherine! 🙂

  • Reply ali grace | cookies and grace June 23, 2015 at 6:47 pm

    Thank you for saying all of this! Right now, as my husband and I are thinking about having kids in the next couple of years, I am having such a hard time thinking about working and being a mommy at the same time. My mom stayed home, my husband’s worked, so we come from different experiences. Most days I think I’d love to stay home with our kids, but the reality of our finances may not allow that. I can worry and feel guilty about the future of being a working mom, so it’s super encouraging to hear from your perspective.

    • Reply MadisonMayberry July 7, 2015 at 1:56 pm

      Ali – I can’t sugar coat it; I think once you have a baby you start to realize that you will always be pulled in multiple directions. It’s amazing how your family background growing up influences the way you think about your family, isn’t it? Joe’s mom and my mom both worked, and my mom was a single momma who worked. I guess that there is no “right” answer across the board, but I have faith you’ll find what works for you once you have kiddos. And what’s right in one season might change and be different as your family’s needs change and your family grows. Still figuring it out over here!

  • Reply Lindsay F June 23, 2015 at 11:23 pm

    I don’t think it’s selfish. I am a stay at home mama, and I know it’s not for everyone. These babies are tough bosses. Some days I miss the adult interaction and I totally get why people would go back to work. I never had a job that I absolutely loved so it was an easy choice for me.

    • Reply MadisonMayberry July 7, 2015 at 1:53 pm

      You are totally right, Lindsay! Those babies ARE tough bosses. I was shocked at how difficult it was to be home with Ainsley those first 13 weeks! You’re amazing doing it day in and day out and I’m sure your little ones will be so thankful for you as they get older. 🙂

  • Reply Caitlin Panella June 24, 2015 at 11:48 am

    What a well written post. This is to a T how I have felt (and still feel) now after returning to work about a month ago.

    I will admit, I still struggle with feeling like I can’tgive 100% or be my “best” at everything these days. I used to feel like I could be the employee who always gave 110% and could stay late as needed or take on extra things and still manage a social life with my husband, family and friends. Now I feel like I just can’t do that because I want to get home to my baby girl and spend what time I can with her. There are nights too where I’m so mentally drained after work that I feel guilty, like work is taking away from being the best Mom I can be. But then I think about the quality of time I do spend with her – evening walks, eating “dinner” together, reading books, tubby time, the whole bedtime routine) and snuggles and I feel a bit better. I imagine in a way it’s tough forever, we have redefined who we are and now we are trying to balance a whole lot more!

    Whoops long comment, sorry!

    • Reply MadisonMayberry July 7, 2015 at 1:53 pm

      Oh Caitlin, I totally get you! I have those days, too, where I feel like I am only giving 70% to any particular effort and not really doing amazing at any one thing. I guess that’s all part of the balance? Sometimes I have those days where I’m totally exhausted when I return home from work and I’m not as invested in Ainsley’s play and development as I would like to be, but I’m trying to give myself grace as much as possible!

  • Reply Amy June 24, 2015 at 3:46 pm

    I would love to see you share a “day in the life” post of you being a working Mom! Would be great to see how you structure your day balancing getting ready, career, working out, meal prep, etc. Thanks for sharing – love your blog!

    • Reply MadisonMayberry July 7, 2015 at 1:51 pm

      Thanks for the great post idea, Amy! I’ll add that to the hopper. It’s a mad dash to get everything done each day, but slowly I’m finding a routine that works for our family!

  • Reply Joanna July 1, 2015 at 7:55 pm

    I returned to the working world after maternity leave a couple days ago, so I feel your pain. That being said, we did not have a choice. I’m the breadwinner of the family. I would never think of someone as selfish for being away from their house to provide for their family, so no guilt! And I personally think it’s better for my baby to experience a number of caregivers (at the moment just family, but he will be starting daycare a few days a week in August). My mom stayed at home and, while it was good, I recall never wanting to be away from her as a child, which probably isn’t the healthiest attitude either.

    • Reply MadisonMayberry July 7, 2015 at 1:51 pm

      Love your perspective, Joanna! It wasn’t really an option for us, either, since I provide the health benefits for our family. Love hearing from other working mommas. And I totally agree that it’s great to have so many people loving on Ainsley throughout the week!

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