I am continuing the Celebrating Moms Series with a wonderful piece by Amanda Pruss. It is not often that you hear a mother speak with such honesty about the choices mothers must make as they balance career and motherhood. I appreciate Amanda’s ability to share her heart with Homegrown Friends.
Every time I look at my daughter I see the miracle that she is as pregnancy did not come easy for us. I had planned for a three month maternity leave from my full time job. It wasn’t long enough! I loved my time at home and absolutely cherished it. After going though such agony to have a baby, I relished in being a mom. It was not without its challenges. Like all new moms I was learning the ropes in a crash course style, but I enjoyed it. My time at home with her was amazing, poopy diapers, screaming, sleepless nights and all.
I felt nervous and sad in the days leading up to my return to work. I was dreading having to leave my baby. I really struggled with returning to work. I knew it was what was best for my family, but that didn’t make it any easier. The reality is we are a dual income home. By working we are able to save for our retirement and our daughter’s future. We will be able to provide a good education and a healthy lifestyle. We can afford the medical bills that come along with infertility or pay adoption fees. I want a sibling for my child and this is how we can do it. Even though I knew this was the responsible choice for us, I didn’t want to leave her. I felt like I was paying strangers to raise my child.
We put our daughter in a top quality daycare (we toured everyone one in our area). The transition was rough! Though the first week was the hardest, I cried at my desk every day for at least a month. I knew she was receiving excellent care, but it was just heart breaking for me to leave her. Transitioning her to a bottle wasn’t easy and all the breast pumping was exhausting. The whole thing just seemed silly to me. I spent half of my work day looking at pictures of her and daydreaming about quitting my job.
During the early months I was getting up at 5:30 nursing four times a day, pumping five times a day plus nursing throughout the night. I was mentally and physically exhausted plus my nipples were really hurting! I constantly worried about my daughter. I hated going to work, and I was starting to resent my husband and dreading the day to day. I wanted to be home raising our daughter. I was jealous of my stay at home friends. I longed for that life style.
It took several months but things got better. I made a conscious effort to enjoy the day to day. This is what I always wanted, and now I had it. I was lucky! It wasn’t picture perfect, but it was my life and I choose to love it. My husband stepped up and starting to do more around the house and I started to do less. If the cleaning or food shopping didn’t get done, well, frankly I didn’t care. Anything that took time away from me being with my daughter got cut. Weekends became strictly family time. We stopped visiting friends and family as often, dates continue to be rare, and that is okay with us. If we can’t bring our daughter with us, it usually isn’t worth the effort. I cut back at work stepping down from a few committees and stopped volunteering for extra assignments.
Now that my daughter is approaching 18 months, I feel like we are in a great place. I still would prefer to be a stay at home mom, but that just isn’t going to happen. Our daughter is excelling at daycare and our pediatrician is thrilled with her development. She is running, jumping, dancing, talking, expressive, growing like a weed and best of all she is a very happy toddler. She hasn’t been sick in months (knock on wood!), and I even received a promotion at work. (Grateful for this because daycare is crazy expensive!) I have made some great friends with other working moms and I absolutely love my daughter’s teachers.
I still struggle with the guilt of putting her in daycare. I still daydream about quitting my job and staying home, but now I also wonder, could I do as good of a job? Her teachers are amazing, and frankly I don’t know if I would stack up. If I was home all the time, would I become complacent and let the TV become the baby sitter? Would she have as good eating habits, or would I just let her eat fruit all day? Would she be physically developing as well and hitting milestones way before the average? I don’t have the luxury of knowing those answers. What I do know is that this works for us, at least for now. If we are lucky enough to have more children we may price ourselves out of daycare. (Two kids in full time care would be more than our mortgage payment.) I’m not sure what the right answer would be in that case. I do know that is a bridge that I would be delighted to cross if given the opportunity.
Life is not perfect, but I LOVE my life. Like all moms I wish there were more hours in the day and that I could slow down time because it all seems to be going so fast. However, I consider myself very fortunate to have a beautiful healthy daughter, a loving supportive husband and a good career. I thank God everyday for how blessed I am.
About Amanda Pruss
I am the mom of a 19 month daughter, Stella, and two huge lovable dogs. My husband, Andy, and I have been married for five years and we live on an 85 acre farm in central PA. We feel blessed to be able to raise our daughter in such an idyllic setting. We both work for The Pennsylvania State University, I in the College of the Liberal Arts and he in the College of Agricultural Sciences. Our home has turned into a giant play space for Stella and we love it! Our days are hectic with us both working full time but we take advantage of every minute of family time we get.
Are you a mom that has a story you would like to share? Please submit articles to Meredith @ firstname.lastname@example.org.