Recently I read this great post by fellow blogger Emily Bennington on her blog Daily Worth: Having it all doesn't mean doing it all and, as a working mother, I felt better after reading it.
For some reason, when I became a mother (or better yet when I was mostly just pregnant) - I thought I could really "have it all". I thought I could just return to my career and continue to excel and move up the chain all the while having my new son at home where I could enjoy him every moment I wasn't at work.
Well my son came and he and I had 12 wonderful weeks to bond, then it was back to work - as a professional accountant working in a top 4 public firm, that meant a lot of OT. Returning to work in mid-Jan was also poor timing as this is when accounting firms are often the busiest. Needless to say, the first few weeks at work were horrible for me.
I was lucky in the sense that my mother-in-law (MIL) was watching my son instead of me enrolling him in traditional daycare - she would show up at my house shortly before it was time for me to go to work and hangout for a bit before loading up my son and going to her place (about 40 min away). However, working 8:30 am - 8:30 pm can quickly drain a person - let alone the mother of a newborn. My work had lactation rooms so about 3-4 times a day, I would take a 20 minute pumping break, but even this didn't allow me to keep up with my son's demand. He was exclusively breastfed (EBF) for 4 months and then we had to start supplementing with formula. By 7 months, I just wasn't keeping up with him and we decided to wean.
Getting off at 8:30 pm and not getting home until 9-9:15 pm meant zero face time with my son aside from middle of the night and early morning feedings. I was a mess - some nights I would drive home just crying because I had realized - I really couldn't have it all (granted, fading pregnancy hormones also probably played a role in this). I couldn't' be this perfect employee and a perfect mother, I just couldn't.
Now my son is 22 months old. I have a different job in the private sector - still demanding, still with peak times where occasional overtime is required, but nothing like where I was before. My son attends traditional daycare with loads of other kids. My life is -slowly- reaching a balance. I can't spend every moment with my son, but I can make the most of the moments we have. For the most part, I am his from the time we get home until the time he goes to sleep - granted, there are days when I give him a snack, curl up on the couch in front of the TV and let him run around with his toys, but for the most part - I'm engaged with him in the evenings, that's our time together.
Now I just need to try to find a balance to include: (1) time for me; (2) time for my husband & I as a couple and (3) time for my friends ...
I'm slowly working on (1) & (2) - hubs & I spend at least 30 minutes hanging out and talking - catching up on the nights he's not working and I'm getting back into my hobbies - blogging, reading, cooking new things. Hubs & I have also committed to one child-free vacation a year. Number (3) is going to take some time I think, but that's because so many of my friends just aren't at the "kid" stage yet. I need to realize it's ok to occasionally hire a babysitter and go for a girl's night out - and I'm working on that. I guess at the end of the day, my son has become one of my best friends - and I'm ok with that too.
How do you "handle it all"?