Just in this one context, I very well know I am not alone. I also know I am neither the first nor the last working mom to go through an emotional roller coaster. I just wanted to take some time and pen down my thoughts that are more confessional than anything.
Going Back to Work
Abiding by the maternity laws in California, I went back to work when my baby was four weeks old. I have heard from many other moms that it was the hardest thing for them to do – going back to work leaving an infant baby at home, either with a grandparent or with a nanny. If you ask me, I think it was the best thing for me. I got back to sanity, and frankly, reality a lot faster that way. Was it tough? You bet it was. Tearing myself away from my baby every morning, expressing milk and bringing it back (when I could just nurse my baby if only I was home!), balancing between work and the sleepless nights, and just dealing with the massive tsunami of guilt is not hard. I still remember the day I just sat in my parked car in my office parking lot and cried my heart out because I just couldn’t handle it anymore. But, I did, thanks to my husband, my mother, my family, and my friends. Build and rely on your support system. You need it.
That first business trip I had to sign up for made me feel weird. I had to leave my baby for an entirety of four days! If going back to work was a nine on a scale 1-10, the business trip seemed like a 15! Oh, but did I tell you that it was just plain awesome to sleep through the night in a quiet place? And did I also say how awesome it was to wake up to nothing in the morning? No chores, no kids, no breakfast/lunch duties. That happiness lasted for two mornings in a row. Day 3 brought that guilt tsunami back. Thankfully, my business trips are four days long most times. My husband also makes sure I get to video chat with kids every evening. Those little things count.
Volunteering at Kids’ School
Schools fill the academic year with an incredible number of activities. Teachers and school staff do a fantastic job of ensuring students get a well-rounded experience every year. Some of the activities where a parent volunteer’s help is greatly appreciated are – copying, classroom assistance, field trips, art projects, clay projects, math olympiads, yard duty, fundraising activity volunteers, among others. I typically sign up for offsite activities – things I can help out without having to be necessarily in the school during the day. Printing, emailing, procuring donations, placing online orders, etc. are some of the volunteering activities I prefer.
And then there is Project Cornerstone: ABC Reading that I enjoy the most! This activity involves attending one 1hr parent meeting and spending one hour in the classroom reading a book to the children and helping them learn soft skills (how to stand up for themselves and others, how to brighten their and others’ day, how to make the school a safe and happy place, etc.).
Impromptu Activities at Kids’ School
I will give an example here. I got a call from my Kid1 at 3 pm on a Wednesday, asking me if I could pick him up from his GATE (Gifted And Talented Education) class and take him to the GATE showcase in a different school. He was just told to introduce his team in the showcase, on stage. I just couldn’t drop everything I was doing in the office and go to him. I requested another parent volunteer to help me out. Was I a bad mother? I don’t know. But did I feel like the worst mother in the world? You bet!
Just About Every Day!
I see some Stay At Home Parents spend their day with the kids at school, helping them out with almost everything and the massive tsunami I mentioned earlier, hits me again. The thought that I probably am not spending enough time with my children crosses my mind.
If you are like my Thing2, you will giggle at that title 🙂 Having said all that, I love being a working parent. I would never trade my life. I enjoy learning a lot of things on the technical side myself. I also love to be a parent once I’m back home in the evening. I cannot see myself trading one for the other and still being happy. To those folks that have traded one for the other and found happiness, I tip my hat to you!