I had a great chat earlier this week with a close friend who is having her first baby in two months. I love a good hormone fueled conversation so this one was great! In frustration and with guilt she proclaimed, “I’m just not cut out to be one of those trendy stay at home moms who wears yoga pants everywhere and runs marathons! I also don’t want to wear pink kitty cat sweatshirts and mom jeans! Am I wrong to want to go back to work after I’ve bonded with my baby and just be me?!?!”.
Working Mother Magazine is starting a campaign to get paid parentall leave for all US workers by 2015. Moms and Dads read this article and join the cause.
Luckily for us my back-to-work childcare situation was a breeze. For the first 8 weeks back, he stayed right across from my office building in an amazing company-run childcare center. Even though he was just a blob of a 3 month old, he did arts and crafts and had story time. They were wonderful!
Then, he went on to stay with a mom from church, her son and our friends’ little girl. It was so cozy and loving. We had to transition to a new arrangement and from heaven dropped in my sister who was wonderful with our son and I could never thank her enough for the care she gave to him. So, with childcare we went from great, greater to greatest! We were living the parenting dream!
It’s inevitable that you wake up from dreams (or you don’t and that’s not a good thing either) and reality kicks in. Mine was the first day my son was in “daycare”. I say “daycare” because for parents there are subtle ways we communicate how good of parents we are by the way we describe where they are while we’re at work. Nannies and sitters mean you fork over the money for them to stay at home. The higher echelons of parenting send their kids to Montessori or an academy. There’s mothers’ day out and nursery. When your kid is a toddler they can go to pre-school. But, you rarely see a parent standing up and saying with pride “I dropped off my kid at DAYCARE this morning!” I don’t know what it is but it just feels icky.
Everyone’s talking about this study about “supermoms” and I couldn’t help adding a few thoughts too. http://www.livescience.com/15663-supermom-depression.html Good news for me is that I wholeheartedly agree with the researcher Katrina Leupp and her findings line up exactly with my experiences. Here’s a bit of what she had to say.
Women who expect to have it all probably come up against workplaces that aren’t designed with work-life balance in mind, she said. When they can’t balance everything perfectly, these supermoms are more likely to feel frustration and guilt.
I’d like to expand this to stay at home supermoms too. I know a few who are extreme Type As and have high expectations for their home life based upon their success in the business world. I even had one friend who was measuring her baby’s poop to make sure it was within acceptable ranges. I don’t need to survey 1600 women to know that once you’ve started sticking a tape measure in dirty diapers, it’s gone too far.
So, I say to all moms out there, “If you are loving your child, feeding them, providing shelter, growing them to be strong in character and hugging them as much as you can – you’re all the supermom they’ll ever need.” When the balls you’re juggling fall on the floor and the hats on your head topple over, just look at a few family photos and soak up what you’ve really accomplished.
Here’s what I thought I’d be doing while I was home with the baby during maternity leave:
- I’d be nursing in a white flowing gown with soft light shining down and songbirds singing in the background
- I’d pack up the baby and we’d head out for the mall to get in a good walk and some window shopping
- Lunching with stay at home friends who I thought must be the luckiest women in the world
- Creating a masterpiece of a scrapbook that would be the envy of all
- Exercising during the baby’s nap in order to get back in shape after gaining 50 lbs
I couldn’t wait to get maternity clothes. Soon I was initiated into the sisterhood of the traveling maternity pants when friends offered up their maternity clothes on loan while I was going to be in need. The first bag arrived and although I was only two months along, I just knew that I was huge so I tried them on immediately. I was disappointed when everything seemed too loose. (Keep in mind that I had only gained five pounds of the total of the fifty that were coming!)
So a few weeks passed and my pants were finally getting snug. I stopped by Target after work and was glad to see in the maternity section some black and khaki pants that would be great for work. The stretchy panels were even on the side in v shapes so they didn’t look nearly as hideous as those disgusting jean/pants things that I always saw expectant mothers resorting to. (Keep in mind that I eventually broke down and wore some hand-me-down disgusting jean/pants things because that was all that would fit. Light wash “jean” material with a royal blue knit panel in front. S.E.X.Y!)
Toward the end of my three-month maternity leave I must admit that I was excited that I had gotten a call from my manager asking me to participate on a conference call for a project I’d be on when I got back to work. “They still need me!” I thought and beamed with pride at the request.
I planned it all out. I’d put my son down for a nap about 15 minutes before to make sure he was in full on snooze. His room was next to the home office and I could close the door so he wouldn’t be disturbed. It’d be perfect and I was about to prove to myself that I could do it ALL!
I thought this was a helpful write up on questions to ask HR about your company’s policy on Maternity Leave. Thanks workitmom.com!
There are tons of other questions and expectations you’ll want to set with your manager regarding your leave so I’ll be posting more on boss basics soon.
Any other questions that you’d add to the HR list?
Good news! Even if everyone at work despises you, they will like your baby. Since that is the case, your co-workers will probably want to throw you a baby shower. If they’re so happy for you and the life you’re bringing into the world, of course they will be totally respectful of your wishes and desires for baby products. Yep, not so much!
If you’re like most new moms, you logged in to babiesrus.com within minutes of seeing the plus sign on your pregnancy test. You read all the reviews and from a totally self/baby-centered perspective, clicked the check box for any and everything you’d ever need. Onesies, blankets, sheets, bottles, nursing supplies, nipple cream… Standard fare right?
Think of it this way, if your IT department would flag “nipple cream” or “butt paste” as a search in Google as inappropriate, you probably shouldn’t let your co-workers know that this is on your list of must haves. Three reasons come to mind.
I remember that before I left for my maternity leave that I was given the code to the door of our Lactation Room. I felt like I was in a secret society of fabulous mothers who were perfectly balancing work and life by providing sustenance to their newborns by bringing home the bacon (and the milk). Nursing was stressful for me and luckily during my time at home with the baby I had mastered the machine and thought I was fully prepped for day one back at work. Boy was I wrong?!
When should you let your employer know that you have a baby on the way? I’m sure there are varying opinions but in general I’d say the sooner the better. Here are some reasons why:
- If you were the boss, you’d like to know. Let’s put their shoe on your ever expanding maternity foot. Fast forward one year and you’ve fallen in love with your nanny/child care provider. They’re dependable, they do an excellent job and they’d be super hard to replace. Then one day they show up and tell you that they’re taking the next three months off and you’re required to hold their job for them while they’re gone. Huh?!? You’d freak out! You don’t have a back up because they’re the only one you want and you didn’t have time to make a plan.