Today, I am really excited to have Veronika from Veronika’s Blushing here to share her personal story about going back to work. Veronika’s decision to enter back into the work world was not an easy one. Her story is inspiring and I love the way she talks about both sides of the decision. You will enjoy this story whether you are a stay at home mom or a working mom. Such a great read, and Iove seeing other mama’s support one another no matter what they choose. I hope you enjoy it. Thank you for being here today, Veronika!
Anytime I thought about the future when I was younger, I pictured myself as a working mom. I got my first part time job when I was 14 years old in a mall coffee shop and have worked ever since. I was even a certified gymnastics coach in my last year of high school, teaching kids ages 2-12. For the past 17 years, I haven’t known a life where I wasn’t working part or full time. Like many young women, I’ve taken great pride in building my career. Today, I work as a public relations specialist at the largest (and one of the best) children’s hospitals in the country. I work with local, regional and national media outlets to tell the stories that come out of our hospital. Whether it’s breakthrough research or treatments, miracle stories, or simply a media outlet needing expert commentary on a pediatric medicine topic, I pitch stories and coordinate on-camera and phone interviews with our doctors, nurses and patient families. I absolutely love my job and I feel honored to play even a small role in sharing these stories. I truly feel like I’ve witnessed some miracles here and that’s something I always say with the utmost gratitude and humbleness.
When I was pregnant, there was no doubt in my mind that I would continue to work. I had fleeting moments here and there where I thought about how nice it might be to stay at home, but it wasn’t until after having my daughter that I truly questioned if I was making the right decision. The thought of going back to work seemed extremely overwhelming. The truth is that 12 weeks isn’t enough maternity leave for most mothers. Many moms are just getting the hang of breastfeeding and falling into a groove with their routines. You finally feel a little more confident in your caretaking abilities, and maybe you’re getting a little more sleep, too. Just as you’re falling into a routine, it’s time to return to work, right before being hit with the 4 month sleep regression. Adjusting to working full time was difficult. I had good days and bad days. I had days where I cried in traffic and days where I felt completely defeated when I finally picked up my sweet girl and she was cranky and tired from a day of fun at daycare. I’ve had days where I texted my husband “I can’t do this anymore.” I’ve also had days where I come home eager to tell my husband what an amazing story we filmed, or about a successful surgery that was performed that had never been done before. I’ve had days where I excitedly emailed my husband a link to a national news story I placed. I’ve had days where I marvel at the fact that I am privileged to sit in a room with some of medicine’s greatest minds—and that I get to help tell their stories so that more families can have hope for their children.
I still question my decision. I wonder if I’m making the right choices for our family. Even when I see my happy, healthy, smart toddler before my eyes, I wonder if she would thrive even more if I was home more hours each day. I also question whether I would be a good stay at home mom. Would I provide the kind of structure/activities/circle time/outdoor time/arts and crafts she enjoys and thrives on at daycare? Would I be even more exhausted? Would I miss my career? Would I regret it? On the other hand, I ask myself if I’m missing too much. If I’ll regret working because I can never have this time back? It’s never black or white and I know very few mothers who are 100 percent content with their situation. Most moms I know, whether they work inside or outside of the home, are just taking it one day at a time.Each choice has many different challenges, and many of the same ones. Every mom has days where she feels lonely, isolated or like she could just pull her hair out. Sometimes it’s the stay at home mom whose child has had tantrums all day, and sometimes it’s the working mom whose child is so exhausted after a day of fun that the smiles and hugs you looked forward to after a day at work are nowhere to be found.
Three things have been the “saving grace” for my coming back to work. The first is that my husband is a 50/50 partner. He’s an equal partner in every sense of the word who has truly helped me get through every hard day and his support is the largest reason I was able to pump for year. The second is our daycare. I don’t think I would be able to do all of this without having such confidence in her amazing care providers. She happily runs into her classroom everyday and her amazing teachers and daycare facility are truly a huge part of the reason I feel comfortable most days with our decision. Our daycare has cameras so parents can view live feeds and I see daily how the teachers are so engaged with the children while also allowing for free and creative play throughout the day. I know a lot of people have very bad perceptions about daycares, but I’ve never felt more confident about how my child spends her days. They put on puppet shows for the kids, they’re always dancing, reading, doing puzzles, eating together at little tables. I just love that I can peek into her day, every day. It’s the extra reassurance I need to know that my child is thriving in her environment. She also spends one day a week at home with her grandparents which is a nice balance. The third thing is that I do love my job (most days, haha).
Ultimately, I do feel I am doing what is right for my family right now. When I was a little girl, my family emigrated from Europe to Canada. My parents couldn’t speak a word of English. My mom went to school to learn English and decided to enroll in nursing school because she wanted to provide for me. When I think about what my mom overcame in those years, I am always brought to tears. We didn’t always have the most stable relationship, but now that I’m a mother, I have more compassion. My mom’s hard work meant that she could leave my father and provide for us and I’ll forever look up to her for that. It’s why I’ve always wanted to work. Because of life’s unknowns. My husband was laid off from his previous company a month before our wedding and I will forever remember that sinking feeling. We are very focused on saving and we were fine, but that feeling of uncertainty— that no one is ever truly safe—has never quite left me. Now that we have a child, it’s even more present.
I still struggle with wanting more time with my child. I live for weekends where we can do fun things with her. I live for our after- work “dance parties.” I try to be present in the limited time I have. I try to remember that her long naps at daycare “don’t count” as time spent away from her. Like any parent, I still have good days and bad days. I still question if this will always be the right choice for us. I wonder if I’ll change my mind or have regrets—whether I continue to work or decide to stay home. And then I’m comforted and humbled by something else- I have a choice. I remind myself that for many women, working OR staying home isn’t a choice, but a necessity. That’s why it’s so important that as women and mothers, we support one another whether we make a choice, or simply don’t have one. What I know from having friends in both situations is that we all need the same things- support, compassion, understanding and to be able to share our hopes, trials and fears without worry of judgment and scrutiny. I want to know that I can call my stay at home mom friend and vent about work drama or a bad traffic jam—and she wants to know she can call me when her child spills an entire box of cereal on newly-cleaned floors or has had their fifth tantrum in a two-hour timespan. And I can. And she can. I’m lucky to say I have such friends. Do you? I hope so.