Lola the Working Mama – Update

I have been wanting to write about my transition back to work for some time now, but life has been busy!  I have a glass of wine and the jets are on in the bathtub, so I decided to sit down and just sort of ramble and unload.  This will be one of those entries where I am really just treating this blog as a family journal.  It won’t be witty, funny, or designed to make any readers like or understand me or want to come back for more.  This one is totally for me, so that I can look back in X years and remember, “Oh I did feel that way back then…”

So.  I am a working mom of a 4.5 month old baby girl.  Where to begin?

I got pregnant 3 months after I landed the job I’d always wanted.   I was 27 years old.

If you’d have asked me when I was 18-22 if I wanted to be a stay at home mom, I’d have told you that I wasn’t even really sure I wanted kids, but that if I DID end up having kids then I would definitely stay at home with them from day 1.  You see, I always kind of thought I’d meet “the guy” in college, marry him shortly after college, and start having kids pretty soon thereafter.  So, basically, I always thought I’d stay at home with any babies that I may have because I didn’t ever see myself in any type of career at all.  I just wasn’t ever really the type of girl who knew what I wanted to do with myself professionally.  A lot of jobs sounded good in theory, but I just never really said, “I want to grow up and be a ____ and have a really great career.”

Well, college came and went, but I didn’t meet my husband.  Therefore, I didn’t really have the option to just get married and start raising babies.  I HAD to work and support myself so that I could afford a lonely one bedroom apartment.  I dabbled in a few different industries, all pertaining to sales, and after a few years I actually did start to realize that I had a sort of “dream job” in mind.

I began to take steps to land that particular job, and of course while doing so I met Oatmeal.  I told him about these aspirations when we were dating, and he was really interested and happy that I was becoming more driven professionally.  We even discussed in our required pre-marital counseling sessions with a pastor that I would return to work if/when we had children.

Sooooo 3 months after we got married, I got really lucky.  A friend of mine (who worked in the industry I wanted to work in) had an opening in her company and called me to see if I wanted a shot at an interview.  I got the interview, another interview, and another interview.  I got a job offer, took the job, and started training.

Theeeennnnnnnnnn I got pregnant.

Immediately after getting pregnant, I started to worry about returning back to work.  It’s funny how your mindset changes when you actually experience a pregnancy.  It changes even more when you actually give birth and look at that tiny, beautiful, completely amazing little baby that depends on you for even the most basic life functions.  I wasn’t sure at all that I could or should return to work.  Neither was Oatmeal.  It was a struggle for the both of us, one that we discussed off and on for roughly 10 months.

Even though I was uncertain of what I should do, I was certain of one thing.  I know myself, and I knew that if I didn’t at least go back to work for a short time, I would always wonder “what if.”  You see, I am in a pretty mom-friendly industry.  I get great benefits and I have flexible hours.  I don’t have the type of job where I have to be out of the house before the sun rises or work until bedtime.  No one is clocking the amount of time I spend in the office (in fact there isn’t an office at all).

What IS required to be a good employee at my job is the ability to manage my time, prioritize my resources, and become a very engaging and resourceful partner to my customers.  It sounded very scary and intimidating, but honestly in the back of my mind I always thought, “I bet I could do both…. I’m just scared to try.”

In short, I guess I thought that by returning to work, I may possibly drop the ball.  I worried that I’d either be less of a wife to my husband, less of a mother to my daughter, or less of an employee to my employer.  Or worse, all three!

Not to mention the entire (very worriesome/stressful) aspect of childcare.  I found a traditional daycare and that is where we decided that Poppyseed would go.  I was VERY concerned about using a daycare at all.  I considered a nanny, but the cost and availability of such seemed unrealistic.  So I called around about daycares and was lucky enough to speak with a few families who were very happy with a local daycare nearby.   I made arrangements for Poppyseed to go there beginning at 11-12 weeks of age.

For the first 7 weeks after having her, I stayed at home during my paid maternity leave and rarely left her.  After that, I went to work part time for one month while my mother in law kept her at my house.  Honestly, if I hadn’t had the option to go back to work part time in this manner, I do not think I’d be working today.  She was just so little, and I was so protective and nervous, I really just needed to know that if she wasn’t with me then she was with family.   On that first day of work it was SO hard to leave her.  I knew she would be fine with her grandmother of course, but it just felt so ODD to put on a suit and high heels and hit the road with my laptop again.  I mean, I was a mom now!  Moms don’t wear heels and a suit and carry a laptop in a briefcase!  I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have to reapply mascara several times that day.  Thankfully, we live in a world of iPhones and text messages.  My sweet MIL sent me several pictures and called me a few times with various updates.  Poppyseed did just fine.

So obviously I was blessed with very supportive family (grandparents, husband, and a flexible little baby) and the next month of working part time proved to be a good transition for us.  I learned all about pumping (I was and still am absolutely determined to continue nursing), time management with work and a baby, and realized I COULD continue to do all the little wifely things that I knew my husband valued.  I was also able to learn how to simply wake up early and get out of the house in one piece – something that seemed nearly impossible on that first day of work.  I mean, it’s hard enough to get clean yoga pants and makeup on by 9am with an infant, much less work attire with a full face of makeup and your hair in place!  Every morning that I got out of the house with my work attire on, I felt like a total poser.  I looked like I had it together, but oh was that a joke!  There were seriously days where I’d check my feet before walking into a customer’s office and halfway expect to still have my house shoes on.

At 12 weeks, I continued to work only twice weekly but transitioned her into the daycare.  I felt much better that I was able to do this twice a week instead of just dropping her off full time all at once.  In hindsight, I know that she would have been just fine, but selfishly it was just easier on ME to do this.  It enabled me to get to know the 3 sitters at the daycare gradually so that by the time I did have to drop her off full time (at about 15-16 weeks of age) I really felt comfortable with the sitters.

But.  My job took me so far away from the daycare that I knew almost immediately that something was going to need to change.  So, we moved.  I went from having to drive 3 hours each day to do my job, to now driving 5 minutes on some days and 2 hours on other days.  I was also able to put her in a home daycare.

Don’t get me wrong.  I was really skeptical about home daycares from the beginning.  I really thought I wanted another traditional daycare with fancy brochures and one of those 24/7 cameras that you can log onto at any time and see your baby.  But after a few phone calls and interviews with places like this, I was certain of one thing.  Traditional daycares, while the best and most comfortable option for many families, was just not comfortable for me.  I don’t know how to explain it, but I just never really got into the whole idea.  I’d go and talk to these places, which called themselves “schools” instead of daycare, and had “tuitions” instead of dues, and they talked about how the whole experience was “educational” instead of “childcare.”  I’d leave these supposed “campuses” with my name on their wait lists and just feel sort of unsettled about it all.  Honestly, I just didn’t really know what to do.

Then, I was lucky enough to get referred to a home daycare.   A friend of mine called me one day and told me that a friend of hers used a home daycare for her daugher and was really really happy with it.  And – bingo – they happened to have an opening!  I kind of had a gut feeling from the very beginning that this would turn out to be a good thing.  I immediately called the lady who ran the daycare and made arrangements to go meet her and view her home and meet the other children.  She was easy to work with and made me feel relaxed.  Her home was very safe and perfect for kiddos.   She had over 10 years of experience as a nanny.  She gave me numerous references of other families that she had worked for in the past, and each time I would call one of them I would get rave reviews such as “You’re lucky to have been referred to her, she was wonderful with my children when they were babies,” or “She is truly gifted with children, especially infants.”  I knew it was literally God putting our family in the right place at the right time.

For us, a home daycare is the best fit, at least for now!  I know that circumstances can change, but we have been using this daycare for a few weeks now and it is just night and day different and I mean that in a really good way.  I know that for some families, the parents are simply more comfortable knowing that their infants are being cared for with other infants in a state-regulated facility.  But our family, I guess I just like the idea that she is the only true infant in her daycare.  She is the youngest of a smaller group of kids who range from 15 months to 2.5 years old.  This makes me more comfortable because the older kids are a bit more self sufficient than she is, so if she has days where she just needs to be held more than usual or overall just requires more attention, her caregiver can provide that attention.  Before, in the traditional daycare, she was 1 of 10 other tiny infants who were all demanding attention.  Oh, and I love that I am able to get to know the other families so easily!  Before her first day, I was invited to one of the kids’ birthday parties so that I could meet the other moms and dads who use this particular daycare.  I loved seeing the other families, who all seemed so warm and family oriented.  I like that she is in a home with several rooms and a yard where she can get taken outside for some fresh air.  I like that she is around other kids of different ages.  And really, I just like that the girl who runs it is so darn good with kids.  She’s a mom herself, and completely understands how hard it can be to trust someone else with your baby!

Poppyseed has many new “helpers” at her new daycare!

Her sitter told me that she was “better than a new toy” as far as the other kids were concerned!

Now that we have moved and Poppyseed is going to this new place, I am getting into a great routine with her.  I can drop her off and pick her up at different hours, depending on what part of my territory I’m working that day.  I get various texts and pictures each day with reports and updates on how she is doing.  If I’m working in town, I can even stop by to nurse her during lunches rather than having to pump because I’m so far away – LOVE that!

LOVE this picture of my sweet kiddo.

So, for now at least, this whole working mom thing is going so well.  I don’t know how I’ll feel in 6 months or 6 years.  But I know this for now – things are going well and I plan to keep working!

Poppyseed has furry friends everywhere she goes!

Swing time on the back porch.

I actually took her in her pajamas this morning – she was so tired while I was getting ready for work but certainly perked up later!

I will say this one other side note.  I have learned that there are people who are VERY opinionated about working moms.  At least once a week someone will ask me who takes care of my baby while I work.  Sometimes it’s a male customer, sometimes it’s another female in the offices I call on, sometimes it’s an acquaintance.  But there is always that slight undertone of sadness or pity – or even flat out judgement – that because I am a working mom I am just not a good mom.  There are the comments such as, “You’re working and you have to leave your baby in a day care?  Oh… wow…. isn’t that, well, difficult?”  No amount of explaining or conversation makes these instances any easier.  I just have to move on, try not to get offended, and just tell myself that there are people out there who will not understand.  And that is okay.  Not everyone is going to understand, because not everyone has been in a situation similar to mine.  I have to remember that if I had met Oatmeal at age 22 and popped out a baby at age 23, with no real “career” or experiences that led me to have a job that I really loved, then honestly I myself would be a very judgemental mother when it came to other moms.  I’m 100% sure of this.  I’ve never been very good at empathizing with others’ situations if I haven’t experienced them firsthand.   If I’d had a baby before I began working in a career that I really enjoyed, I would have probably just quit my day job and stayed at home, always thinking that working moms were taking the easy way out, neglecting their babies, or worse.  So, when people seem to think that of me, I have learned to just smile and be very kind, and honestly, just move on.  I just have to continue to focus on my husband, my baby, and – yes – my job.  Again, I’m very fortunate.  Fortunate to have my supportive husband.  Fortunate to have a perfect little baby.  Fortunate to have many friends – some are stay at home moms and some are working moms – but ALL of them are darn good friends who I rely on for support.

So – for now – with baby #1 – being a working mom is going well.  I feel like I’m making the right choice for this chapter of my life.  Can’t wait to see what happens in the next few chapters.  🙂

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  1. Yay!! So glad you are happy and have found something that works for you guys!!! I can’t wait to see your new house!!

  2. Absolutely! I think everyone has to do what works for them, and it sounds like you’ve found that thing! If I were in your situation I think I would do the same thing. I always thought if I kept teaching I would put my baby in an in-home day care. To me, that just feels more comfortable.

    Oh and as far as the judgement thing…. you’re right to blow it off. We all get it. Sometimes when I tell women who work that I stay at home they look at me and pity me and say, “What do you DO all day?” Or, “What are you going to do once your kids are older?” People can be rude.

    • So true Chelsea! And you know what, I have chosen to forgive girls who don’t have kids who ask SAHMs that question “what do you do all day” because I used to wonder the same thing before I had her. I learned real quick after having her that taking care of a baby doesn’t equate to sitting around on the couch eating bonbons for sure.

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