Why Am I Going Back to Work, Again?

I have always wanted to be a working mom.  Looking back, I am not sure when I made this decision or really why.  But now here I am – after having my baby girl in October, I am finally faced with heading back to work next week.  To my surprise, I have really been questioning whether returning to work is the right decision.  One day I am bookmarking slow cooker recipes, planning outfits, texting work friends, and thinking, “I’ve got this.”  The next day I am a wreck, sniffling over the baby as she naps, and contemplating life as a stay-at-home mom.  One reason for the emotional roller coaster, I think, is the fact that many of the reasons I have always wanted to be a working mom do not seem to matter or make sense anymore.  Some examples:

“I want to teach my daughter that she can be whatever she wants to be.”  I will be equally proud to one day see my adult daughter choose to stay home with her own children or go to work – or to not have children at all, for that matter.  I used to think that it was important for my child to see me working so that she can see the number of things that a woman can do.  But being a full-time mom is also one of those things.  So… why does it matter whether I work or stay at home as long as it is my choice?

“I spent too much time and money on grad school to stay at home.”  Oh, pre-baby Emily, you adorable, naive little thing.  As much as grad school sucked and made me miserable and poor for a number of years, that alone certainly does not justify me being away from my child for 40 plus hours per week.

“Everyone else does it.”  It seems like someone at work is always having a baby and that they always eventually come back to work.  I also have a number of friends who have babies, nearly all of whom have returned to work.  So that’s what I’ll do.  Because… of course it is.  It is a bandwagon I have never contemplated jumping off – until now.

“We need the money.”  But… we could also sell one of the cars and cancel the cable and turn the thermostat down to 64 and eat Cup Noodles for the next five years.

“My career is important to me.”  When I got the job I have now, it was one of the first times that I had ever really felt like a goal or dream of mine had been properly fulfilled.  Stressful as it can be, I am proud of my work, and I generally look forward to going in every day.  All of these things point to me returning to my job, but now it somehow feels as though I am making a statement that I love my job more than my child.  Though I know that this is not true for me or for the millions of other working moms out there, I am feeling really conflicted about this, and it is weighing heavily on my mind..

In the end, I am going back basically because I like my job, and some of this life still needs to be just mine.  This is me putting on my oxygen mask.  I am honestly not sure whether that reason is good enough or whether this decision is the right one for me.  But at this very moment, it seems like it is, and “seems” is about as definitive as anything has been since I became a mom.  So that’s that.

And also, I need to get out of these pajamas.

11 thoughts on “Why Am I Going Back to Work, Again?

  1. I totally understand how you feel! I question if going back to work was the right decision. One thing I say to myself when the guilt creeps in is:it’s not the quantity of time you spend with your child it’s the quality! Good Luck!

  2. I actually just returned to work after the birth of my second daughter (11/1) and it was a completely different experience than after my first. In the weeks (ok, month) beforehand I would just start crying thinking about leaving her and losing that time together! But I also have to say, by the time the day came I was in a much better place…and not only was it not bad, it became a great thing. So this is not in vain! And FYI, the transition was much smoother the second time around as I focused on all the things that I get out of my job. Like you, I really enjoy what I do and I have found that the sense of accomplishment I get from it is unique and separate from parenting. I wish you the best of luck and hope you find that fulfillment either way.

  3. Thank you for this reminder. It is comforting to remember that I can change my mind! Good luck with your new challenge!

  4. If you’re like me, that up and down feeling – from “I got this” to fresh tears – will continue in your first weeks at work. Then you’ll have a snow day or a long weekend at home and either think “I wish I were home every day,” or “I’m a better mom because I am not home every day.” I thought the latter, and being a working parent is SO hard, but also so great for us. Best wishes for a smooth transition!

  5. It is possible to make working and mothering work. One of the keys is to remember that no decision is final. Force yourself to take it day-by-day. Eventually, you will see that it all evens out–the good days and the bad days. You have to give it time though. As I sit here, I am pregnant again and trying to figure out how to share myself with two children. It’s going to be an even bigger challenge, but I’m up for it! 🙂

  6. There’s so much to think about when you’re at this stage of the game. What I found was whatever you thought you were going to want to do before you actually had the baby goes out the window when the baby arrives! I always thought I’d be the mom crying at daycare drop off, running back in to grab my daughter with my resignation letter written on a napkin from the car. But I was really glad to get back to work. It worked out to be the best thing for both of us. The best part about being a mom now, is that there is no wrong answer. And, the answers are never written in permanent pen. You can always change your mind. Good luck Emily! You’re going to be great no matter what!

    1. Thanks for the encouragement – you are so right. One of the many surprising things I have found about motherhood is the fact that everything I THOUGHT I would think/feel/do is so different now that the baby is actually here. We’ll see how it goes!

  7. This is exactly how I felt. Exactly. I found that the anticipation of going back was so much worse and I was very happy once I was there. It isn’t easy to juggle both, but I know now that I made that right decision for my family. I hope it is the same experience for you as well. And, it’s worth a try – if you really get back and give it a go then don’t like it – you can just change your mind and sell your wardrobe and just wear your jammies. I am totally kidding of course.

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