I don’t remember my first check. I do know I’ve always had a trade, a hustle, a job, and a drive as long as I can remember. It was never really about the money. I thrive off of simply going above and beyond. Being excellent at performing tasks became a core value from downloading my father’s movements, his demanding presence, his silent, yet obvious exhaustion from long days filled with whatever he actually did, but in my head, he was the bosses boss and I knew, I’d always work towards that vibe.
When it came time to go back to work post-maternity leave I was ready until the night before. My close friend, a school counselor, told me that anxiety tells us information in the same way fear saves lives. In retrospect my anxiety and fears were screaming at me, telling me I was not ready to go back to work. I ignored it and on my second day driving to work I pulled out onto the street without looking long enough and was hit, and the driver kept going. While my daughter and I were physically fine, the car was damaged and it seemed I didn’t stop crying for weeks. One morning after dropping my baby off, breast still full of milk, late for work, I cried. I called a girlfriend and sobbed, trying to explain that my mind and body were no longer connected. I could hear the worry in her voice as she calmly said, “It’s OK, but maybe it’s time to find you a therapist to talk these thoughts out with”. I listened, and for the first time I allowed myself to accept I wasn’t ready, but it was here and I needed to figure it out.
I’m a working mom and it’s hard as f**k. While going back to work I also experienced postpartum depression and anxiety. I am blessed enough to have ended that chapter and have learned lessons that I can share. The following reading includes tips and words of experience I have learned from my village, therapist, and research by women, for women. These helpful notes will be especially powerful for women experiencing working outside of the home and motherhood simultaneously. However, these pointers can be modified for stay at home moms, and women in general.
Take your time. Take all your maternity leave and then some. Take time to understand this is difficult. You will cry. You will worry. You will leak milk, and cry more. Give yourself grace. Prior to baby’s arrival take time to really search for a perfect place for your baby. I knew I wanted something at home, small, close by my job. I was so fortunate because I was able to find someone who matched the energy I was looking for and offered to allow me to FaceTime, my daughter, during the day. Take time finding a place that can offer you some peace. Understanding that time will help build routines and habits that will be healthy for you and baby is the first step towards creating balance.
2. Routine and Healthy Habits
Babies love structure and routine. This does not mean that you have to run a military-style house. I certainly don’t. I do the majority of my prep work at night. This includes instacart for groceries, laying out clothes for the entire week for both of us, and scheduling time for myself. In the morning I wake and completely get ready alone. Then I wake the baby and complete a simple routine with her. We greet each other with a hug, give gratitude to the Most High together, make the bed, eat a light breakfast, finally I get her dressed and ready. On the way out of the house, I hold her as I lock-up and walk through the house. This is a good chance for her and me to have our morning talks as I introduce her to practical vocabulary and skills. She watches and learns as I move. I often have her help me with tasks like closing doors and carrying my keys. Allow this time in the morning to be special, peaceful, and consistent. These precious moments create the magic known as childhood.
3. Create Magic
Every moment of being a mother is magical. As a boss mom, challenge the idea that you pulled the short end of the stick. You applied for your job, you got that! You applied for motherhood, and look at you girl! You got that, too. Claiming the mindset that you are lucky, blessed, and balanced will manifest the ability to create magic in your life and your baby’s life. Imagine yourself making the childhood memories that your seed will cherish, and later plant. How can a commute to the sitter and then to work be fun? NPR podcast and wheels on the bus? Sure! What about cooking after work? Work together, play music, introducing new skills and flavors to your baby each step of the way. Schedule weekend parent and baby play dates, walks in the park, yoga, and trips to new places, will give you both something to experience together and reconnect after a week of work and play. On weeknights set aside 30 minutes – 1 hour prior to bedtime away from the screens and be fully present with your baby. No, it’s not all day, but what kind of magic can you make with that time?
a.) Self-care. You’ve heard it before. You’ll hear it again. But girl, make time for yourself. Allow a trusted member of your village to watch the baby as you rest, get your hair done, travel, experience new food, take a risk, spend time with your partner and friends. You need those things. The best mom is a mom who is a whole, happy, healthy, individual. Find out what that looks like for you and give yourself time to explore that woman.
b.) Service. I highly encourage all moms to volunteer, give back, get involved in a local organization. This can be done during your alone time or with your baby. It really could be as simple as searching for a woman in need of your child’s old clothes. Remember you are lucky, blessed, and balanced.
There will be times you will wish something was different. There will be moments you’ll want to walk out of your job, pick up your baby and just pray you hit the PowerBall. There will be times you will burn the food because the baby miraculously learned how to undo something childproofed while you were on a conference call.
I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned it, but there will be lots of tears. You have a lot of your plate because you deserve to eat well! You get to model how a feminine working woman can bring home money and raise happy children. While there may be times that are hard, you, working momma, are a boss. The universe will guide you to balance. There’s plenty of tips and advice, but motherhood is about trust. Trust that you can hustle and love. Trust that you caring for yourself is not selfish. Trust that the life you’re working towards takes work and trust and believe that you’re already good at that. Work it out, girl!