My dream growing up was to be on the cover of Forbes Magazine as an…
I had so many expectations about motherhood before I had any children. And I see that all of them are laughable and completely backward now that I actually have the children.
Exhibit A: I’ll happily do the cooking, baking, cleaning, and household management with the added title of mama.
Reality: Happily isn’t the word I’d use to describe it.
Exhibit B: I’ll love breastfeeding.
Reality: I was completely blindsided by the physical, emotional, and mental challenges of feeding my baby.
Exhibit C:, I would want nothing more than to be at home with my baby.
Reality: I was shocked to experience a sense of deep loss and grief at the absence of my work.
When I first started out in my career as a stitcher in the costume shop for theater productions, I enjoyed the stress and thrill of the strict deadlines, constant changes, differing opinions, mistakes, mixups, and drama (I mean, it’s theater).
I love the rush I get finishing pieces right before opening night. But I assumed that when I became a mom I would step back from my career and be home with my kid(s) every day. It wasn’t just an assumption, it was what I thought I’d always wanted.
As I came up for air from the insanity of that first postpartum month with my son, I was hit with a deep sense of longing to be anywhere but at home. I felt completely trapped in an endless loop of nursing, pumping, and then feeding him a bottle of pumped breast milk or formula.
Wash, rinse, repeat.
With the tiny windows of time I had between triple feeding sessions, I tried to get outside for some fresh air, or shower, or feed myself. Anything I could to try to save my sanity and feel like an actual human. More than the food source for my son. More than the empty vessel who had birthed him. More like me.
I found myself craving time spent with my coworkers in the costume shop. I craved conversations about anything other than my boobs, diapers, and what solid foods we were currently introducing to the baby. I missed being able to go to the bathroom alone, the ‘free’ time that I had during my commute to and from work, and not multitasking every single thing.
Now, I realize that I have many privileges on my side.
I live in a country (Canada) where taking 12 to 18 months of Maternity and Parental leave is common. I can even choose to share that time with my partner. I have a career that I am deeply passionate about and thankful for. I work in an industry that is slowly becoming more accommodating to people taking time off for their families.
Because of this social and familial support I was able to honor those cravings one year after my son was born and go back to work! It was a cold November morning and as I got on my bike, I started tearing up with joy, but then remembered, “If I cry, it will freeze on my face” and continued on with my commute.
It felt so good to find my creative flow and make something with my hands that I knew would inspire performers and entertain other audiences. It sounds cliche because it is, but being back at work was filling my cup. It gave me my life back.
It wasn’t until the end of that first day that I realized I hadn’t changed a single diaper. I told my co-workers who enthusiastically shared in my joy and celebration. And in this moment of community, support, and freedom I realized I had nothing to feel guilty about.
For me, balancing mom life with work outside the home is definitely my best scenario. I know that I am a better mom when I work outside of the home. And I am proud that my kids will see me living, honoring, and embodying my right choices.
If working outside of the home, inside the home, with the kids, without the kids is what fills you up mama, do it. Our kids deserve a mom who lives her truth and makes filling her cup a top priority. It isn’t selfish and it definitely isn’t something to feel guilty about.
Looking for ideas on how to fill your cup? We got you.
Curious to hear another mama’s perspective on choosing to be a SAHM? Click here.