I recently was asked the question if I was able to stay at home full time with my son. The person seemed to feel a certain amount of unsolicited pity for me that I had a job, and this really bothered me.
Since Sebastian was born, I have felt on several occasions that the fact that I work, or that I was not actively seeking to stay home meant there was something wrong with me. Anyone who has had a baby or ever seen a new mom knows that we don’t need to go looking for things that are wrong. My boobs are either overfilled or underfilled, my body shape has turned into something so perplexing I can’t begin to try and figure it out. Wrong wipes, bad rash. Wrong diet change, cranky baby.
It seems almost funny that while in a certain sense there is this big feminist, woman in the workplace, we’re not working ENOUGH movement- in mom circles, we’re working too much.
I’m my best self when I use my talents. I’m the best wife and mother when I go to work, however exhausting and difficult it may be. Trust me, work isn’t a little “escape my home and responsibilities” joyride.
I start prepping for a day I go to work 24-48hrs before I actually go to work. Grocery shopping so we have enough food for lunch for the three of us, laundry so we’re all clothed, errands and Dr.’s appointments to get in, packing bags and writing “remember to do this” notes for my husband that he inevitably forgets to read.
Then I actually go work as a nurse in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit and run my butt off, hydrating between hanging meds and wiping butts, pumping for 8 minutes while shoving a burrito in my mouth and charting with one hand before getting called to take care of my combative patient.
The whole time I’m at work in between trying not to let anyone code (including myself), I’m wondering how Seb is. Did he nap? Does he still have a rash? Did Eric remember to pack this (nope)? My friend who watches Seb answers all of my obsessive questions with the absolute patience of an angel and takes the best care of him that I could ever hope for, but he’s my baby, and I miss him like crazy.
Rush home, shower to exhume all of the hospital germs, feed Seb, put him to sleep, help Eric make dinner, wash my pumping parts, put away the bags and tupperware and dishes. Collapse on the couch. Drink an entire bottle of wine (jk…kind of).
In spite of it all, I love my job, and I’m good at it. Without 1-2 days a week where I can go and stretch my mercy muscle taking care of the vulnerable, I become lazy, depressed, and a crazy coffee drinking spendaholic.
But this is me. This is not everyone. I fully believe that when it comes to working, to each his own.
There are some moms who want to work, some who have to work, some who don’t want to work and don’t have to, and some who want to work but can’t. And a million little categories in between. Me? I have to work, but I also love to work. My ideal would be that we are financially stable enough that I don’t have to work, but that I choose to go 1 day a week.
Mom’s are supposed to be with their babies, biology says so, and I get that. If I was in a small tribe in a third world country, I would work in the fields with Seb on my back in the original baby carrier. And I probably wouldn’t have paid so much for shipping. But that’s not the reality I’m working with, and as much as it breaks my heart to be apart from Seb, we both have grown from the experience.
He loves people. I appreciate the time I have at home with him and spend more time playing with him and less time on my phone. He’s laid back and can go easily from bottle to boob. And I have cared for so many families and been made a little more gentle, a lot more grateful, and ultimately changed by each encounter.
I wish that there was a little less of the “ideal mother” and a lot more of an understanding that we all come from different places. What works for one does not work for all. Besides if I stayed at home, everyone in the vicinity would get wayyyy too fat from all the cinnamon rolls and chocolate cookies I would make.