On why I’m a working parent

I hated maternity leave.  I worked up until I was 38.5 weeks pregnant and then I finally gave in and took time off due to late pregnancy fatigue.  Jack was quite overdue, so my leave ended up being quite a bit longer than I had planned (those extra 11 days seemed like forever).  While I waited for signs of impending labor, signs that did not come, I e-mailed my co-workers nearly every day to get work news; most of them would tell me nothing except, “Enjoy your time off!”  I checked my work email from home, responding when I could.  I would have gladly taken things home with me if I did not have a temp at work that was easily keeping up on the workload by herself.

Being around other people is vital to my mental health.  That is something I’ve learned to understand and respect about myself as I’ve grown older and as I’ve learned how to manage and avoid depression.  In isolation I drive myself crazy with my constantly racing thoughts; work related projects energize me and give my mind a direction and my thoughts a purpose.  Maternity leave was like being strapped into a straight jacket and locked in a white cell for days on end – I could not wait to get out.

The first two weeks after Jack was born were difficult for me, full of nursing troubles, cat naps, and getting exercise to ward off the baby blues.  We had some visitors, including Joe’s parents, to break up the days.  Joe went back to work two weeks after Jack was born, the same day his parents returned to Wisconsin, and except for brief visits from family and friends, I was left alone with my newborn.  By the time Jack was a month old, everyone I knew had returned to their regularly scheduled life.  I quickly went stir-crazy.

I see this happening with other new moms and yet I’m helpless in the face of their loneliness.  I still have no notion as to how to avoid the isolation of the post partum time.  Looking back now, returning to work when Jack was 6 weeks old seems really early but I remember all too well how those days dragged on while I waited for Joe to get home and take over.  There was nothing to keep me sane except for the breastfeeding support group that I attended for two hours each week.  I loved that group for getting me out of the house, but I made no friends there.  I returned home after the session every week only slightly less lonely.

I did not have a child so that I could stick him in daycare for someone else to raise, yet I cannot be a stay-at-home parent, as I have neither the money nor the mental capacity to withstand it.  Perhaps in a different time or place, I could have done it.  Because in my view, not only does it take a village to raise a child, but it takes a tightly-knit community to support parents.


By the way, it’s national delurk day!  Please leave a comment to let me know you’re out there.  It doesn’t have to be related to this post, but I’d love to hear your thoughts if you have something to add!

13 thoughts on “On why I’m a working parent”

  1. oh man… is it ever hard! i feel fortunate in many ways that i don’t HAVE to work, but not having a choice would make it so much easier to deal with the situation i am in.

    being home along with isha all day isn’t miserable– but it is hard to not have adult company most of the day, especially when you are used it. in addition, shitty CA winter weather makes it impossible to get outdoors.

    i’m looking forward to starting work again!

  2. I do go crazy at home with Nolan my mental health has hit the rocks. We are looking to change that for everyones sake. I do not want to put him in daycare for the hell of it. I want need to leave the baby and talk/ work with adults.

  3. I love being at home. When Kitten was first born, I went out a lot – to the mall, to my former office to visit, to the park… whatever I could do to get out. Now I don’t want to go anywhere (could be because Kitten is a lot harder to get in and out of her car seat!).

    I couldn’t imagine going back to work. It doesn’t interest me in the slightest!

  4. Hi reciprocating the introductions. We are too in the midst of sleep issues and I dealt with ppd too. It did take a very tight knit group to bring us through it too. Alone I would not have survived.

    Thanks for the visit, I’ll be visiting you too now. 🙂

  5. I was just the opposite! I loved being at home. I had worked for eight years and the time at home with my kids was a wonderful time in my life. I am not saying it was always easy. Sometimes it was boring. But I loved the time with them and I also had time to devote to things I really, really like to do. I renewed my knitting skills, I learned to needlepoint and to do counted cross stitch and I spent hours sewing. I was able to read what I WANTED to read…not because I was in school as a student or preparing a lesson to teach. I could indulge in novels! I could read historical fiction! I could read, read, read!

    I was also able to spend time with my parents, letting my kids get to know them. We would go out to lunch with them at least once a week ( which I could not have afforded to do otherwise) and we went hsopping or visiting. My father passed away when the oldest was 8 but we had good times before his illness and my kids had great times with their grandpa. He enjoyed them so much. My mom retired early and she, too, spent many joyful hours watching them grow.

    I eventually went back to work. But htose years at home were among the best times of my life.

  6. Thank you for sharing your perspective. It’s very different from mine, but I can certainly understand what you were saying. I’m glad you found something that works for you and your family, ultimately, that’s the most important thing.

  7. I forgot to mention that you bring up a really good discussion — mothers both at home and at work need support. I wouldn’t not have the same perspective I have if I didn’t have the support I received (and continue to receive.) It has made all the difference.

  8. Being home drives me stir crazy, but I just can’t go back to work. I think I’d go crazy away from my kids too. LOL It’s so important to have something to work on, and get out around other adults, but still stay home in my jammies and play with the kids all day.

  9. Hi Ewokmama – I’m a stay at home mom (for now), and so far, I’m happy with my choice. But I know what you mean about the EXTREME ISOLATION. I’m a homebody by nature, and with a baby’s incessant demands, and a household to run, its just too easy to get caught in a rut without even realizing it. Some weeks, the only adult I interact with is my husband! Work provides an outlet, a place to be a person, not just a mommy. Now that my kid is 1, I feel ready to do something part time. My problem is – finding childcare I’d be comfortable with (and be able to afford) and finding something I want to do badly enough to get me out the door!

  10. I don’t usually post to any of these blogs I run across, but since you asked to de-lurk…

    So glad to hear someone say “I want to work.” There seems to be a lot of heated, angry debate about the whole stay-at-home vs. working mom issue. Frankly, I’m tired of feeling I have to justify my choice (because it was a choice – we could live on one income if we wanted to). I love my son and love spending time with him. But I also enjoy my work and like earning a paycheck. Frankly, the daycare experience has been good for my only child.
    I’d like to think if I chose to stay home with him for an extended period, I would be engaging him in creative learning/play every day. But when I was home with him for about a month at 3-4 months of age, I found myself caught in that horrible monotony of doing the same thing over and over 15 times a day. I fed him, I changed him, I played with him, when he napped (IF he napped) I cleaned the house or made the grocery list. Over and over, feed, change, dishes, laundry, play, feed, change, dishes, vacuum, play… I totally understand the feeling of isolation. And I agree that all parents need support. As a working parent, I think it’s especially hard to meet other parents to form any kind of social/support network.

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