To say I’ve wanted to be a mom all my life would be an understatement. As a young girl, I was a babysitter; as a teenager, I was a nanny during the summers and after college, and I spent many evenings babysitting after work. Being around kids of all ages was my joy. There was no question as to whether I was going to be a mom, but when I was going to be a mom.
I met my now-husband at 22, and I swear I would have had children with him the moment we locked eyes. I turned my “perfect” life upside down for him (that is an entirely different story). At 29 he proposed (damn it--what took so long?!), and at 30 we got married. We endured our own fertility journey, and at 32 I was beyond blessed to welcome my twin girls into the world.
With months of waddling and modified bed rest, I stopped working midway through my pregnancy. I had quit my job and was for all intents and purposes starting my life as a stay-at-home-mom. I had no job to return to, and while pregnant I was totally okay with that. It was like a long, long vacation!
But then there they were: the hardest work of my life. It didn't take long for me to realize I was not made of stay-at-home-mom material--seriously, I called my old boss when the girls were six weeks old and asked how soon I could come back. I didn't have what it took to be home with my kids day in and day out. It was too cut-throat, too intense, and too all-consuming. I was in this bubble that I needed to pop. Even though I was a part-time student finishing my post-Masters certificate as a Nurse Practitioner, studying here and there and starting clinical rotations, it was not enough. I needed a nanny and I needed to get out.
It was easy to leave them at first. They didn't know I was gone while I knew I was going to get to socialize, see friends and peers, have a coffee in peace, and perhaps even talk on the phone without interruption. While they are now three years old and those days of easy leaving have long since passed, I still feel strongly about my desire to work outside of the home. What makes it hard now is their persistent desire for me to stay home. I can barely even walk the dog without one of them crying, let alone hear the sad "Work againnnnn?" every morning as I walk out the door. I am often filled with guilt and sometimes shame at my preference to be away.
Sometimes I question my choice about being a working mom, but then the weekends roll around and the days feel long and drawn out. By Monday morning I have a renewed faith in my job and career and a strong desire to get out of the house just to feel recharged.
How I balance it all is a completely different story, and perhaps this will serve as a PSA to all the working and non-working moms. Working and being a mom are two of my great joys in life (in addition to my husband, family, and friends), but my third and probably the number one reason I stay sane and can "do it all" is because I am hugely into self-care.
I couldn't work full-time and I could not be the mom I am without putting myself first. There, I said it. Haters go on and hate. But I need a healthy dose of self-care in pretty much any form to get through my week. For the past year, this is what I feel has made me a winning working mom.
Facials. Massages. Chiropractor visits. Walks. Manicures. Pedicures. Haircuts. Hair colors. Long phone calls. Mahjong. Dinners with friends. Wine alone on the couch. Getting Botox. Injecting Botox for others. Drinking iced tea or a latte in peace. Just being alone. Moments of silence and deep breaths. Indulging in delicious food. Exercising (sometimes), meeting new friends, connecting people...the list goes on and on. All of these things bring me joy, balance, and the ability to work AND be a good mom.
I incorporate one or more of these above joys into my week, every single week. It grounds me, it helps put things in perspective, and helps me to be me: The nurse practitioner. The wife. The mom. The friend. The daughter. But most importantly, the Me in all of this craziness.