I started worrying about how my baby would adapt to his new daily routine, without me around. Would he scream his head off the whole time? Could I really trust the sitter and her abilities to take care of my little one’s needs like I did? On top of all this, there was something else that made the decision even harder for me. All around me was criticism. From the very people I had thought would reassure and support me.
It seemed, according to them, that returning to my job leaving my baby behind was insensitive. It would compromise with my child’s cognitive development in his formative years – and all because of my “selfish” decision to resume employment soon after his birth. Were they right? Was I indeed a bad mother about to make a wrong decision? Many times every day, I would find myself crying hysterically. My guilt-trips were frequent and intense. I became deeply heart-broken.
One day, a neighbouring aunty visited my place. She took one look at my pale face and figured out something was wrong.
“What are you worrying about?” she asked me, patting my muddled head. “Your sweet little baby wants to see his mommy happy!”
She was a kind, motherly woman who had always been good to me. The understanding in her voice encouraged me to pour my heart out. I told her my worries, and how I was struggling to make a decision.
“I am in a dilemma. I want to return to my job, something I deeply care about, but I don’t want to leave my baby behind. I am so worried that my decision could upset my child and his needs but my career also matters to me – am I really an insensitive mother?”
My neighbour listened to me intently. There was no judgment in her behaviour, only understanding and empathy. It was then she told me something that sealed the decision for me. It is something I have always remembered, and would advise others moms in my position to go by. Here’s what she said:
“First, I want you to tell yourself this – you are a good mother. You care immensely about your baby and are doing your best to keep him happy and healthy. But did you know that no matter what you do, your baby will not be happy if his mother is not? You are a mom, but you are also an individual. Everyone has different choices and ambitions and there is nothing right or wrong about them. If your career is important to you, it is an essential part of your happiness. You shouldn’t let it go!
Your baby may be little, but he will respect this decision and grow up with the knowledge of how amazingly his mom manages her time. The separation anxiety and stress that you feel now is merely an indicator of your maternal instincts and love. These two things will ensure that you don’t have to ‘leave’ either your work or your baby behind; you’ll be able to strike a balance, my dear!”
I stared at her, my eyes welling up with tears. She held my hand and looked smilingly at me. “Remember, choosing to work after motherhood is simply a personal decision. It does not make anyone a bad mom!”
After she left, I sat for several long minutes, thinking about all she said. I had to work up a lot of courage to ultimately make the decision. But I did. I resumed work.
At first, it was heart-breaking. I had to be away from my baby for several hours every day. It made me feel empty, vacant, alone. I missed everything about my baby - his distinct smell, his skin-to-skin touch, how I cuddled him. But on the other hand, returning to my job did wonders for my sense of self-worth. My work has always inspired me, and, during those difficult days, it boosted my confidence a great deal. Very soon, I found myself marvelling at how I was able to balance both my worlds.
There were many working moms in my workplace. Work-life balance is challenging for every woman, but it can be a particularly emotional battle for new moms. All of us started chatting and supporting each other. We shared tricks to manage things on both the work and home fronts. I would schedule assignments so I could do justice to them, together with the chores I had back home. I learnt to multi-task and manage my time much better – yes, even better than I had done before I had my baby. Becoming a mother really teaches you to be an expert at these skills! Also, I was fortunate to have unceasing support from my husband. He has always been my pillar of strength and never failed to offer me a helping hand with childcare.
Today, my baby has grown up to become a cheerful, self-reliant child, who loves spending time with his parents. When I look back on those initial days, I feel glad that I made the decision I did. Motherhood introduced me to new aspects of my personality I never knew I had. Yes, the “juggling” was difficult, and some days were tougher than others. But mothers have uncanny will-power and strength, trust me, and this lets them figure out a golden mean. I am proud that I did.
I wonder how different my life would have been if I had succumbed to the pressure of society and my own apprehensions back then. I had been so worried about doing the right thing for my child, the best thing for his future, that I almost overlooked what my heart told me. I now know that returning to work and learning to balance my life was the right decision for me. It may not be the perfect decision, or a decision that works for every mother. But then, as Baby Dove says, there is no right or wrong way of being a mother. There are no perfect mothers, only real ones. I am a real mother who wants to continue her career together with raising a child, and if it feels right to me, it is the right thing for my baby too.
Cheers to all real moms who want to strike a balance between fulfilling their dreams and enjoying the joys of motherhood. You can do it!
Baby Dove believes that there is no right or wrong way to be a mom because there’s no such thing as a perfect mom – just real moms, doing it their way. Mothers instinctively know what’s best for their child and Baby Dove is here to reassure moms to trust their way!
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