Living My Why: On Careers and New Motherhood
It's a Monday and my almost five-month-old son is currently downstairs perfecting his "blowing bubbles" mouth noises and playing with his nanny peacefully. I know this because I am upstairs in my home office preparing for a conference call and answering some emails. I don't worry about how he's doing and I don't feel guilt over never getting to see him because I work for a remote organization that understands, truly understands, what being a new mom...or new parent really means. Without the hassle of a long commute, I am able to spend some time in the early mornings playing with him and practicing tummy time while we are both still in our pajamas and diapers (well, he is). During lunch, I come downstairs to let my dogs run in the yard and sneak a peek at his gummy smile that makes my heart skip an actual beat. What once seemed like mushy hyperbole is now my reality. Today he grabbed a toy on his own. Last week I witnessed him roll for the first time. Yup, my little advanced dude is going to start college any day now.
All of this sounds so blissfully mundane and yet it's just not possible for so many women. When I was in my twenties, I thought about how I would balance motherhood and a career because I knew I wanted to have kids. When I met my now husband, I started thinking about it more seriously because I realized that our future child could one day have his eyes and dimples (somewhere Andrew Crowley at Awin is blushing right now). At previous companies, the logistics just never would have worked. I would have either had to scrounge up my time off to be able to take six weeks off (while paying into short term disability the whole year) or I would have had to work while taking care of a newborn. The HR rep at one organization told me that I would just need to let them know the year we planned to have a baby so I could start paying for short term disability in advance. Kind of a romance killer, guys.
When I started working at PartnerCentric, I realized that for the first time I had found an organization, and a leader, that truly practiced what they preached. You could have a career that you were proud of but also be able to put your family first.
When Jack was born on December 14th of this past year, it was obvious that life was going to be a little bit different. For one, I was blissfully unaware that I would now be sporting fun and fashionable accessories like chronic undereye bags, breastfeeding shields and donut pillows since the body does not, in fact, heal overnight after giving birth (who would have thought?). For another, I found it kind of strange that he looked like a squishy elderly gentleman but from the moment I got to hold him, I clearly understood that I would protect and love this wrinkly human for the rest of my life and do my best to shield him from any pain (except for the true agony of bad piercings and tattoos but we'll cross that bridge...)
I took a three month maternity leave with the full support of Stephanie and the whole team at PartnerCentric. I shared one of the first photos ever taken of Jack, Andrew and I in a company Slack channel when my epidural hadn't even fully worn off yet because I wanted to share my joy with my work family. Those first three months were a blur but I was so grateful that I had them to fully focus on being a new mom. Those mom internet forums about proper sleep training and how long you can swaddle weren't going to read themselves and I had PLENTY of time to decipher whether babymama74765 really had the experience necessary to be giving tips on correct breastfeeding techniques. Truth be told, I also spent time during Jack’s naps stealthily checking in on Slack to stay in the know on what was happening at work. After all, my career is still part of my identity as well.
Tonight, I will put my smiley, chubby baby to bed at 7:30 after we put on his pjs and I sing him "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" super off-key but in a way that tells him it's time to sleep...or at least take an extended nap since sleeping through the night is just not in the cards right now. And in the morning, I will wake up bleary-eyed but so thankful for the fact that I get to see my “why” every day and that I don’t have to miss any milestones...or crucial gold nuggets of internet forum mom advice all while having a career I love.