Transitioning Into Working Mom Life and All Those Big Feelings
After I had my first child, I decided to stop working and stay home with my baby. I initially thought I would be a working mom, but my reality didn’t align with my expectations. My feelings about this were all over the place. Firstly, I had a job that continually forced me to do things I felt were unethical and not supported by research on what is best for kids. Secondly, my entire family lived across the country and I would have had to rely on strangers for full time child care. Thirdly, I would have had no paycheck while paying for said child care.
I was happy to decide to stop working then, I wanted the time with my baby. But it was also somewhat out of my control. It’s complicated, isn’t it? And what a ridiculous term “stay at home” really is. It’s such a loaded phrase. This is a topic that elicits SO MANY BIG FEELINGS from parents. Over the years, I have gone through many of my darkest hours over this very topic.
Growing Pains and Big Feelings
When you decide to become a stay at home parent, you are often told that you are lucky to be able to do so. Sometimes we are able to do so because of privilege, but sometimes it’s also a lack of privilege. Judging someone’s choice to become a stay at home parent is purely an individual decision that a family makes based on what is best for them and what resources they have access to in their community.
In the past 2 years, I have transitioned into a business owner and doula. I felt more and more comfortable working and being away from my children as time went on. At one point, I realized that I needed to make the transition into a commitment to working mom life. I felt a huge calling to grow into a different role in my life, and I felt a massive passionate calling to my work. This transition was 100% necessary for me and for my family.
I love what I do. I put my full heart and soul into my work.
But sometimes working is painful.
Saying goodbye to babies each day is emotional.
Sharing their milestones with others makes me feel left out.
I often become consumed with worry and anxiety over leaving them.
Organizing childcare ranges from simple to agonizing.
I worry that they will become insecure in their attachment.
I worry about breaking their hearts.
The full spectrum of my work brings tears of joy and tears of heart ache.
And all of these big feelings are okay.
Anxiety is a Liar
Here’s the thing. Anxiety is a liar. My kids have done AMAZING and I have seen them grow and learn in huge ways since this transition has begun. They have made new friends, built relationships with other adults, and have learned independence in an entirely new and positive way. For the first time, I didn’t have to be totally in control of everyone’s day seven days a week, 24 hours a day. They are truly loving life.
Supporting the Working Mom Transition is Also a Postpartum Transition
I’ve learned a lot over the past year about moving into working mom life. For a lot of parents, this transition is also a postpartum transition. Self-care is SO important. I’m not talking about bubble baths and wine. I’m taking about real self-care. I have made it a priority to work with a fantastic therapist to help manage my anxiety. I also have prioritized taking care of my personal health. Learning how to organize my life and ask for help when I need it is huge. Asking for help is self-care. Bringing people into your community is self-care. Your postpartum doula can help you prepare for the transition into work life and provide you with a list of community resources to ease the transition.
What Does the Research Say?
A new research study reveals that children of working moms are just as happy as kids of stay at home moms. Studies also show that girls with a working mother are more likely to attain higher levels of employment. Once I did a little research, I felt even better about committing to this transition. It has been both beautiful and painful as we go through these growing pains as a family. But my kids get to grow up seeing a role model who is serving her community, and it helps them to see how important support is for families.
I am grateful for the opportunity to do this work. I am grateful for all of the support my family has received in the process. I am grateful for the privilege of helping families in the childbearing year. I am grateful for my ultra-supportive partner. I certainly am not doing this alone. All of these big feelings.