Thursday, February 11, 2010

The plight of a working mother and wife

As my daughter nears the one year mark, I feel a need to document some of the things I've felt since her birth. At a time in my life that I felt I truly knew who I was and what I wanted in and out of my life, the birth of my child, and returning to work, have flipped me upside down. I never knew I could love so fully or feel so vulnerable. I've got a handle on things, but it's been a journey and it's constantly changing.

My list of worries and concerns in no typical order:

  • Do I advocate for her as best as I can?
  • Am I neglecting my husband?
  • Am I neglecting myself?
  • How do I balance mother and wife and what is left of me anyways?
  • Is my relationship coming second, when I always swore it would come first?
  • Why, when I love my daughter and cherish the moments with her, do I actually look forward to alone time?
  • Should I feel guilty about all these questions?
  • When this should be (and is) the happiest and most rewarding time in my life, why do I find myself smiling less?
  • Would she be behind if I stayed at home?
  • Does she get the attention she needs and deserves (both at home and daycare)?
  • Am I falling behind in my career because I've settled into a non-demanding and uncreative position? Should I care that I might be?
  • Why can't I just let her be who she is and not fret over every little thing she may behind on?
  • Should I feel bad that I look forward to going to work at the end of the weekend?
  • Should I feel bad that I'm looking forward to giving up breastfeeding?
  • Why don't I take care of myself the way I used to?
  • Do I feed her as much variety as I could/should?
  • Does she get what she needs from me?
  • Is any or some of how I've felt even remotely normal?

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The Turner Family said...

Nail on Head! I think you and I share a brain, or maybe its just the working Mom thing, but I have asked EACH and every question to myself, sometimes several times a day, and your list brought me to tears! If you aren't normal, neither am I :)

girlnblack77 said...

Everything you're asking/feeling is what we've all felt, if not articulated as well.
Know that there is no *one* way to parent, and that you know your child better than any doctor, nurse, teacher, or 'professional' does.
Every child is different, and every parent is different. No one told you how to be a wife, and you managed that just fine... though I imagine you had similar doubts/questions when that relationship was new (I know I did, as a new wife!). My point is: each relationship, whether wife-husband, mother-child, or father-child, is different... and you just do the best you can and figure out what works and what doesn't. No one, including your child or husband, can fault you for not having all the answers on day one. :)
The one thing I would go back and do differently if I could: I'd carve out a block of time for ME, whether a little bit daily or a larger bit weekly, in order to refocus and recharge. As a new mom, and with my own Betty Crocker/Donna Reed mother as a basis of comparison, I often felt guilty for taking *any* time for myself... and then this strange anger started bubbling beneath it all, because I was worn out and didn't fit well in the role of martyr.
Everyone needs down time or 'me' time... and every working mother looks forward to changing gears and going to work on Monday morning. You didn't give up any part of your personality or any responsibilities when you became a mom; you added onto it all. Accordingly, you will and should look forward to going to work and being Work You, just as you look forward to coming home and being Home You.
The biggest difference in becoming a parent is the marked difference in free time. Having a child puts life into warp speed mode. It's overwhelming, but after we get through the initial adjustment period, the change alters our perspectives. We become fully aware of exactly how much time is available in a day, a week, a year... and *because of this clarity*, we are able to better enjoy how we spend *all of our time*, whether at home, at work, with family/friends, or alone.
Enjoy IT ALL. It's your right.

Melanie Busbee said...

So much of this hit home, Jeni. It makes me realize just how desperately we need some girl time together. I know you've been busy, as have I. But let's make it happen.
While I can't tell you what's normal to feel or not, I can tell you that you are definitely not alone.

Jeni said...

I really appreciate you all sharing your thoughts, support and knowing I'm not alone. I do need to carve out time for me, but I just feel guilty and like I'm neglecting someone else when I do that.

Mel - Some girl time would be great. Let me know when and I'll make it happen :)

girlnblack77 said...

Taking time to recharge is *not* neglecting others, and they reap the rewards when you are calm and energized. Looking out for you is part and parcel of looking out for your family!

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