This week, I had to go back to work for a few days.  On the first day, it was extremely hard. My baby girl was bouncing happily in her Jumperoo, smiling and drooling and being her absolutely adorable self.  I must have said good-bye to her five times.  Twelve kisses weren’t enough.  Three cuddles weren’t enough.  I had to get in enough to last me nine hours!  When I got in my car, there were tears in my eyes.

When I got to work, I had a really hard time getting into the swing of things.  I felt like I couldn’t remember how to do my job, and tasks took three times as long as they would have back in December.  But, like riding a bike, it came back after a few hours, and I hit my stride. I found myself energized, excited about using those parts of my brain after a six month hiatus.  I realized how much I had missed working.

But it wasn’t the same.  I found myself stealing glances at the clock, wondering if she was taking a good nap or what books she read after her bottle.  I kept turning on my phone just so I could see her face light up my screen.  Every time I did, I couldn’t help but smile.  I wanted to kiss those little cheeks and squeeze those not-so-little thighs.  I had to swallow the lump in my throat multiple times.  I missed her.

I couldn’t wait to get home.  I got to go rescue her from her crib when she woke up from her last nap, and my heart melted as she broke out into a wide grin and started to giggle when she saw me.  I spun her around in circles and held her close and sang silly songs.

But I was tired.  Really tired. My husband had to leave for a meeting with a client.  I tried to breastfeed, but my girl wasn’t having it.  She threw a fit, thrashing her legs and refusing to eat.  I was tired, and frustrated, and my patience after a long day was pretty much gone.  I quickly filled a bottle, which she happily grabbed and sucked down in record time. 

I couldn’t wait for bed time.  I had some ideas I wanted to work on before going into work the next day.  I found myself staring at the clock, wondering how it was possible that only three minutes had passed.  I felt exhausted, and confused.  All I wanted all day was to come home to my daughter.  And now that I was there, I could barely focus on her. 

Ever since my post on the pause button, I’ve really been trying to be present in the moment.  It’s hard.  I wasn’t even sure how to do it in the beginning.  And now that I am preparing myself to go back to work full-time, I’m finding it near impossible.

When I’m at work, I’m thinking about my baby.  When I’m with my baby, I’m thinking about work, or I’m too exhausted from work to think about much of anything but how warm and soft my bed is.

So, I ask you, working moms, how do you handle the tug of war?  How do you find ways to be present in the moment when you feel guilty, torn, exhausted? 

And, please, tell me, it gets better, right?   


3 thoughts on “tug-of-war

  1. It does get better (not so much easier, but it becomes the new normal, you adjust, and when they’re still little, you’ve got hormones and sleep-deprivation and all that making it even harder.) Your last lines reminded me of a colleague of mine who, upon returning after leave, put it this way, “When I’m home, my heart aches for work. When I’m at work, my heart aches for home.” The mantra that helps me is “What is needed of me RIGHT NOW?” What’s in front of me right now? Breathing and repeating that helps.

    I’ve been back at work for a few years now, and what I have found is that my work is fulfilling, it is “me-time” in a way that it never was before I had children. Hugs and virtual-support to you on a difficult transition. Remember, we can have it all, just not all at the same time! {and we each need to define what ‘having it all’ means for ourselves}. Best of luck 🙂

  2. Hey, going back to work sucks, at first. I was home with Will for 6 months also and as much as I love him and love being a mother I always knew that I wasn’t going to be the type of mom who could stay home. I’ve been back to work for almost a year and some days it’s still hard but mostly it’s easier. That’s because we have an amazing babysitter who I know is doing so much with him. She takes him for walks around the neighborhood, she brings him to horse shoe lake and imagination station and she loves him like he’s her own. She sends me pictures everyday especially on the days he’s not awake when I leave.

    My dad relieves her everyday at 430 since I can’t get home till 530 and because I won’t see her again till the next morning she writes in a journal for me everyday telling me some of what they did what he ate and most importantly if he pooped (obviously always good to know).

    We also have the ibaby. It’s a camera we have in Will’s room that Brian and I can access from our iPhones anywhere we are so when the sitter puts him down for his nap she’ll text us and we can look in at him.

    It does get easier. So long as you trust your sitter it’ll get easier.

    As far as when I get home from work I’m exhausted. Everyday I’m exhausted. And Will, he’s a runner. So when I get home not only have I dealt with mentally ill adults all day and then with rt 80 rush hour traffic I have a running, climbing, sometimes screaming little boy ready to go.

    Will loves Mickey Mouse club house, and I hate to say this because I never wanted to be this kind of mother, I put it on. When I get home for about an hour I sit there with him in my lap and we watch Mickey. If its nice we play in the backyard and by we I mean he plays in the backyard. I let him run around jump in and out of his pool and play with his toys.

    I know that I need that little bit of time when I get home to decompress or I will take all of my stress out on my amazing little boy.

    And forget getting work done at night or on the weekends. He’s to active for me to be able to do that. And when he’s napping I’m so tired from my day of work or chasing him around that I just sit and do nothing. Literally nothing.

    I’m not going to say it gets easier and stays easier. There are still going to be those days when work sucks and I’m gonna get stuck in traffic on the way home cause there are idiots who still don’t know they need to be in the right lane to exit on to rt.15. (It seriously amazes me that people still have trouble with that concept. And it backs up traffic all the way to 280.) Also I know that there are going to be days when I get home and the baby is going to be exhausted because he hasn’t napped because he’s sick or he’s teething and laying down hurts his entire head then throw on top of that that he hasn’t pooped in 3 days. But what I do know is that he’s still gonna run up to me with the smile that makes any horrible day worth it, and hug me so tightly.

    On those days I just stand still for a minute take a few deep breaths and remember that none of the things that happened that day are his fault.

    Being a working mom is the hardest thing I’ve ever done, but his smile everyday makes everything I do 100% worth it.

    Hope this was helpful. For what it’s worth it sounds like you’re doing a great job. Also I wanted you to know that your blog has been extremly helpful to me and to some of my friends.

  3. BA,

    Oh how I love your blog! I know I’ve told you this before, but your reality in written words is so refreshing. Thanks for that. My little guy is almost 2 and I’ve been back to work full time since he was 12 weeks. The transition is HARD, especially when you’re pumping/nursing, but it does get easier. I always tell my friends, give it at least 3 months to see if it’s a routine that you can keep up. I’m pretty sure that every working mom would transition to stay-at-home within the first week of going back to work if given the choice. But, I love using my brain in the adult mode and putting all the education that I worked so hard for to work for me. However, we have an awesome daycare, and that makes a huge difference in the ease of returning to work. If you feel comfortable with where you child is, then you will be at ease as you leave them each day. Plus, there are huge early benefits for our kiddos being around other kids for both their socialization and language. Can you hear the speech therapist in me coming out? I echo what the other mommas have already told you. Be present where you are, when you are there. As much as I hate to admit this, my bathrooms could be dirty, my floors could be un-vacuumed, and a fast-food dinner is not the end of the world. Meal planning and crock-pots are lifesavers. The best part about this adventure is know you have an awesome hubby to share the load with and a beautiful little girl to squeeze, kiss, and share life with. You. Can. Do. It!

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