‘Women can have it all.’ It’s a popular saying and one I am working on proving true. For the past several months, I have been doing the stay-at-home routine with my daughter, Kaitlyn. But recently, I decided it was time to go back to work. Not only because I was ready, but it was what my family needed.
With the quarantine and social distance still in effect, daycares are shut down; so, having to leave my daughter in a situation that wasn’t permanent was another issue for me. And once jobs opened back up, the person I had to leave my daughter with would become unavailable. Then I would be left with finding another situation.
Throughout my whole interview, I felt mixed emotions. Nervous that if I got the job, I would have to adjust to not being with my daughter. I’m a bit of a control freak and I love to get my way, especially when it comes to her. And not being with her, I wasn’t going to be able to keep track of everything. But as I sat signing my offer letter, I knew this was something that I had to do.
On my first day, the trainer asked me to share some things about myself. I told the training class that I have a four-month-old daughter. My trainer welcomed me back to civilization and it was true. I had spent so much time secluded with Kaitlyn and my family since having her. The outside world was nonexistent. Being back with a group of people was definitely going to be a challenge.
“Throughout my whole interview, I felt mixed emotions. Nervous that if I got the job, I would have to adjust to not being with my daughter.”
But I can’t help but feel a sense of guilt going back to work instead of staying home with my daughter. It was a hard decision to make but one that had to be done. The guilt comes from feeling like I am abandoning her or pushing her off on other people. Even though I know that is not what I am doing.
And the missing things. The first crawl. The first time she holds her bottle. Standing up on her own. First steps. So many things I might miss out on because my 9 hours need to be spent elsewhere. And that hurts my heart, that I might not be able to experience those things for the first time.
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“It’s only day 2 of being back to work and I can honestly say that I am feeling everything. I am all at once proud of my career, but I am also scared that I am not being a good enough mother by not being with my son so early on. I am excited to be continuing my career goals with a great company, but I am also so scared that I will miss Ian’s first laugh, his first crawl, or his first steps. I’m worried that all of the love I have for my son (which I swear is bursting from my finger tips at this very moment) will go unfelt because I am not there when he wakes up from his naps or needs a snuggle in the middle of a Thursday afternoon. ⠀ I am happy that I live in Kansas City because if I didn’t, Ian may not even be here. But, I am also angry with this country for not guaranteeing women any paid maternity leave. I was able to take 12 weeks of maternity leave when my son was born and only 6 of those weeks were partially paid. I consider myself lucky to have had that time because 40% of women in this country do not even qualify for 12 weeks of federally protected job leave (unpaid). In addition, only 12% of women in the private sector are able to receive some sort of paid leave. How is the United States 1 of only 4 countries in the UN without a federally mandated policy to give new parents paid time off? ⠀ Maternity leave is not a vacation. And the absence of family friendly policies in the US speaks volumes to the lack of sensitivity towards the female experience that permeates throughout this country. I love my son more than anything, but I also love having a career. It’s so unfortunate that during a child’s first year of life, a time with so many developmental milestones where children could benefit most from a mother’s unconditional love, women in the US are not receiving the support that so many other advanced countries are providing to families. All I can hope is that Ian always knows how much his mommy loves and misses him and his sweet smile every second of every day. And that this is me doing the absolute best that I can for him and our family.” — Megan Ann // @meganann.822 ⠀ ✨Join our community @workingmomkind for advice, features, tips, and support!✨
Then there’s the anxiety that comes from going back to work after being home with your baby for months. For myself, it stems from the uncertainty of doing the right thing that will benefit my child in the long run. However, I’m proud to say it’s a mental stumbling block I am overcoming.
I cannot speak for all first-time moms, but most of us think we aren’t spending enough time or too much time with our kids. But these are the accountability moments where look in the mirror, before we rush off to work, and be content in knowing we are superheroes and we are doing the best we can for ourselves and our children.
Born with a pen and notebook, Jaenaeva Watson is a creative writer beginning her next step as a journalist. She graduated 2017 from the University of West Georgia where she majored in journalism and minored in creative writing. She is a first-generation American, born and raised in College Park, Ga. Jaenaeva wants to travel the world with her daughter, writing about her experiences.