Reflections on Becoming a Working Mom {One Year Later}

I officially joined the professional world as a young college grad in 2004. Twelve years later, I “upped my game” by joining the ranks of working moms. I have been a working mom for one full year. This has been the toughest, roughest, most challenging year of my life mentally, physically and emotionally. It has also been the most rewarding.

Heads Up

I had been at my previous job for a few years. I was a hard worker, working early, through lunch and working late…it was unhealthy for anyone to be doing what I was doing, let alone being pregnant while working so much. My co-workers and I got along great. I built up trust with them. We raised each other up. Come time for annual reviews, a few weeks before my due date, I felt sure I was going to get my first promotion + raise since being with the company.

I got a pretty small raise and didn’t get the promotion. Disappointed and in shock, I know I deserved it and still to this day believe that is true. But, I had tiara syndrome. I, like many other women in the workplace, put my head down and did the work (and I did it well). I grinned and bared it, expecting to be noticed and rewarded. But, the “right” people didn’t notice. I wasn’t the squeaky wheel constantly speaking up or asking for help. Lesson learned.

Fired Up

I went back to work from maternity leave at 10 weeks postpartum. And, I went back with a fire under my butt to change my situation. I asked for another raise and was told no.

Stepping out the office for a bit, I got teary-eyed over my Starbucks iced coffee, feeling sort of hopeless. I already had a new job of learning how to be a mom. Could I handle changing work jobs and learning that at the same time? I googled quotes on ‘change’ and came across the following quote:

“We hold ourselves back in ways both big and small, by lacking self-confidence, by not raising our hands, and by pulling back when we should be leaning in.” —Sheryl Sandberg

Then, I realized- that was the first time I had ever asked for a raise. Having a baby had changed me. I had become more vocal, direct and straightforward. That’s when I realized my journey of change had already begun.

Setting Boundaries

I set boundaries. At work and with home life. Before baby, I would work until 1:00 or 2:00 a.m. That is not an option for me now. Work has me between certain times of the day, where I dedicate attention, thoughtfulness and knowledge 100%. My nuclear family has me between certain times of the day, where I also dedicate my attention, thoughtfulness, knowledge and love 100%.

Post-baby, I stopped answering emails after 5:00 p.m. I stopped working on weekends. I accept invitations only to things I really, really want to do, and decline invitations to a lot of things I also really, really want to do because being a mom + work = tired.

While sitting in Starbucks that day, I set a goal for myself to find a new job within 6 months. I reached my goal within 4 months.

Accept That I’m Going To Miss Out On Something

Whether it’s “Muffins with Mom” because I have an 8:30 a.m. meeting or a happy hour bidding a friend / co-worker farewell, I know that I’m going to be missing out on something. This goes hand in hand with being able to set boundaries. I can’t have it all. It’s true that I have the same number of hours in the day as Beyoncé. And you know what, as much as I try to maximize those hours, I know that I can really only do so much.

That one last email that I’m trying to get out before I have to run to daycare to pick up my son — I can send it in the morning. I have baby snuggles that I have been missing out on all day waiting for me. I also don’t want to be that person that is constantly sending emails interrupting my co-worker’s family + home life time.

Finding Balance

In hindsight, even though I missed out on that promotion, I am better off with where I am in life now. I would have been comfortable maintaining status quo at my former job, had I gotten that promotion.

leaned in as much as I possibly could. When I couldn’t lean in anymore, I leaned out. Life is all about the ebb and flow, learning when to lean in and when to lean out.

I got my own metaphorical tiara and placed it on my own head. And, while I know that if I don’t keep my chin up, that tiara will slip, I also know that it’s ok to need to adjust it every now and then.

So when I say I’m a working mom, I say it proudly because it is incredibly hard balancing on the see-saw of life. I am raising my hand now to say I know I am doing a good job.

What was your experience as a mom going back to work postpartum?



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