There is an ever-present message you hear when you first enter the mommyhood: You are crucial to the care and nurturing of a new, completely helpless resident of the world. Vital even. It’s a message new moms need and love to hear, at a time when nine months of high-volume attention is suddenly shifted from mom to baby.
A good nurse will make a new mom feel as though she now has the most important job in the world. Priorities have never been more clear. Rewards for non-stop stinky, messy, sleep depriving work have never been so fulfilling. The feeling is further compounded for breast-feeding mothers who truly are performing a task designed specifically and only for them.
After weeks, perhaps months, of holding the high honor of being the most important person in the world to the most important person in your world… you go back to work.
It’s the ultimate cognitive dissonance. In an instant, you turn over the ‘most important job in the world” to another. In some cases it’s a trusted and loved member of the family. In most cases, it’s a virtual stranger. We are faced with the daunting challenge of re-rewriting how we live our priorities overnight.
The new mom message spins. Your child will be fine in daycare. He will thrive in a social setting. Women juggle children and careers all the time, you can too. And the most true message you will hear: It DOES get easier.
The first day away from baby brings an emotional firestorm of events. Preparing babies for a day away from home is a comedy of errors until practice makes almost perfect. The dreaded dropoff brings many-a-mother to her knees. Breastfeeders: extra precautions are necessary to avoid letting the world see just how much you and your body miss your baby. It’s a mix of guilt, fear, sadness, loss and… excitement?
Yes! It’s healthy to relish the onslaught of adult conversation, the diversion from diapers and the return of complex thought-processes. Never let baby guilt get in the way of taking pleasure in your own life. A happy woman makes a good mom.
Everyone will have their opinion and advice for you, so tune out the criticism and store the positive encouragement in an easily accessible spot in your heart. If going back to work after baby is your path, it does not mean your priorities have changed. You are doing what is best for you AND your baby.