About A Working Mother Who Longs To Stay Home
Today is my one year anniversary for returning to work after my maternity leave ended. I was able to stay home for 14 weeks in total, one week leading up to the birth (she was nine days overdue) and 13 weeks after Winter was born. Of those weeks, I got paid for a whopping two weeks (which is a different story to share). But now, my toddler is sitting in her new Skip Hop high chair (that fabulously converts into a toddler chair by the way---more on the high chair at the bottom of the post), and I can't help but think back to that first day that I left her at home to go back to work.
On a typical work day, I leave the house at 7:15am and return between 4:30 and 5:00pm. I’m lucky to only work four days a week but being away that long leaves me with maybe two hours to be with Winter once I’m home. When I get home, it isn't always a peaceful time per se, as it’s jammed packed with dinner prep, dinner, bath time and our bedtime routine.
I still believe in all the benefits of being a working mother. Yet, as I reflect on this past year as a working mother, I have come to the conclusion that I feel sincerely and utterly stuck. I don't feel like my career is serving me like I had hoped and I long to stay home with my family. Now don't get me wrong, I know that being a stay at home mother brings it's unique set of glows and lows, but it's really something I would love to experience.
Returning back to work really set things off on a bad foot for me. It was the time when I think postpartum depression hit me the hardest. I have a really stressful and emotionally taxing job as a school psychologist in the public school system. The stress of my job coupled with the lack of sleep equated to a disastrous time for me emotionally.
When I returned back to work, I felt like I was constantly switching between two worlds. At work (no matter how empathetic or supportive my co-workers were) I was "expected" to not think about my baby and my family at home and to be efficient, hardworking, present and motivated to put my students first. At home, I acted as if I didn't have a job because I wanted to give my family and my newborn child all of my energy. I believe that Winter shouldn't have to know the stress I feel from work. I don't think it's fair to get the tired, burnt out, stressed out, deadline-crunching mother. I understand that is an unrealistic view of what it is like to be a working mother, because it's inevitable that the two worlds will collide sometimes. But I really, really wanted to shield her from this the best way I could.
Although my heart yearns to be a stay at home mother, this is not a reality for my family or me. I have over $100,000 in student loan debt after going to school for nine years to do the job I am doing. So I have to work. I am currently going for public service loan forgiveness, which requires you to work in the public sector for 10 years before forgiving your loans.
So, I will continue to work and I will continue trying to have an optimistic attitude while doing it. Honestly, I don't know what the future holds for me in terms of my career. I am taking little leaps of faith here and there (one being this blog) and I can only pray that my path will be revealed to me in time.
So about this high chair by Skip Hop, huh? Winter was using mine (which is over 30 years old)! It is solid and has lasted through me, my sister, brother and now Winter. But because of the wear and tear and outdated design, I could not, for the life of me, get the straps to work or get them tight enough to keep her in (we even bought new straps to see if that would help). So, we ditched the old antique highchair and traded it in for this Skip Hop one. I love how modern it looks! And the best part is, it has a 5-point harness that not even Winter can wrangle herself out of. We've been using it the past week and really love it. Plus, the tray detaches from the base, which makes it easy to clean.
Winter and I are pictured playing with homemade play dough. You can find the recipe here. We added cinnamon to the dry ingredients and almond abstract to the water to make it smell good! Also, the owl spoon and fork are by Skip Hop too. They have a wide variety of zoo animals that you can pick from.
This post was sponsored by Skip Hop. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.
Photography by Brittany Renee'