The Complicated Love Story of a Working Mom

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I love my family, I love my job, I love myself as a mom and a professional. Being a working mom can be a complicated love story. This is mine.

This complicated love story begins like most love stories. It starts out with a young professional woman, quirky but confident, fresh out of school and looking for that something special. She spends a few years trying this and trying that until she decides it’s time for a change.

After a move to a new city, it happens! Everything falls into place. She finds that someone special and that something special, a fulfilling job that is interesting, pays well and in the perfect location.

All is good for a while and then in an instant, everything became so complicated—she found out she was going to be a mom.

The decision

That “she” is me, and once upon a time, I was in a good place. I was living in a city I liked with the man I loved, happy to get up every morning and go to a job I enjoyed. It was only natural for me to take the next step and start a family. I was happy to do so, and I did.

The news was greeted with many hugs and much excitement. I was ready. I attended the information session on taking extended leave offered by my job and I did as much internet research as I could. I read articles on preparing early for maternity leave and even created a checklist to make sure I had my things in order.

In the meantime, I continued to work my same job, completing my same tasks, and working with the same team until two weeks before the big day.

The question

I thought I knew love until I met that new little human being. Not until then did I begin to even understand how much I could love.

I was loving being a new mom. I was loving the support from friends and family and coworkers.

All the phone calls from all the people who loved me. All the phone calls from everyone included one question: When are you going back to work? I never doubted or stumbled on the idea or question of whether I would be returning to work. What gave me pause was WHEN to do it.

The love triangle

During my maternity leave, I experienced 12 weeks of:

  • Being at home, learning and loving a new person
  • Learning how to be myself and a mom at the same time
  • Limited adult interactions
  • Projects assigned to someone else
  • Uncounted hours for which I did not earn a salary—hours that did not count toward retirement

Twelve weeks was not enough time to be with my new baby, but it was an incredibly long time to be away from work. I was sort of ready to get back into my old routine back at work, but I was definitely not ready to hand my 10-week old infant over to a stranger.

It’s complicated. I was conflicted. I loved my job and was starting to miss it, but I loved my baby and was definitely going to miss her. No matter—FMLA (Family Medical Leave Act) time was over—the choice was made. I needed to go back to work since our family/household was not prepared to live on one income any longer.

Lucky for me, I work in an office that wanted me back—but they wanted me back focused and not distracted. We were able to work out a flexible schedule that let me ease back into work with a combination of teleworking and flex scheduling.

Get some help with flexing your job to fit your life from our affiliate, Work Options.

Happily ever after?

Fast forward seven years: I have added a new little human to the mix and I am still working a flexible schedule. It has not gotten any less complicated. I love my work and I will not feel guilty for that. I love that my daughters get the benefits of having a mother who works outside the home.

Nonetheless, I still hate that there will be moments I won’t be there in my girls’ lives because I’m working. I have learned to accept both sides of this coin. As for happily ever after… let’s just say we deal with short-term goals and right now, flexibility is the star in this complicated love story. While there’s always a conflict here and there, love keeps everything in perspective.

And right now I can say I am once again in a good place. My current blend of love, career, and family makes me happy.

It may be complicated, but for this working mom, her love story has a happy-for-now ending.

Benita Staples

Geographers, analysts, and programming professionals call her Benita. Her former students were fond of calling her Mrs. Staples (…and a lot of other names she won’t mention here). Her husband, family and friends call her BJ. And her newest moniker, which she hears over and over again from the most adorable and inquisitive little girls on this rotating earth, is Mom. As a contributor to Working Moms Against Guilt, Benita brings a little bit of all these versions of herself to the party. She happily shares her experiences, opinions and analysis of what life is like for a woman who loves to work just as much as she loves being a mom. Benita also writes for Charlotte Moms Blog and Mothers and Daughters.

7 Comments

  1. I can completely relate. 12 weeks at home with your new baby isn’t enough, but it’s all most of us get. But at the same time, in some ways I felt ready to go back to work. I missed the adult interaction and the feeling of accomplishment. But the thought of leaving my little man was devastating. A part time working option would have been ideal, but not realistic. The beginning was horrible, some of the worst months of my life. Fast forward almost 8 years and another child, and I’ve gotten much better at the balancing act. Some days I can’t wait to get to work, other days I want to stay home and snuggle my boys. We’re all doing the best we can 🙂

  2. Renee – it makes me happy to know I’m not alone! Occasionally I feel guilty for missing out on the quality time, I feel guilty some days because I’m happy to be at work and I recognize now that it’s ok to feel both and you’re right – all we can do is our best! Thanks for sharing!

  3. Thanks for posting this article! I think it is a constant tug of war between time. I love being with my son but I also love my career!! It can be tough because both feelings can leave you feeling guilty.

  4. Drewann, Its a struggle sometimes and I am glad you could relate!!

  5. Thanks for finally talking about >The Complicated Love Story of a Working Mom <Loved it!

  6. I think we all struggle with this as working moms in the US. Thank you for sharing your story and letting us know we’re all in this together!

    ~
    Kiki Crabapple

  7. Aloha Benita, greetings from honolulu, HI.
    It’s fantastic and very wholehearted of you that you really thought this thru to love your family and bring nourishment into the household. And I applaud you for going the extra mile to give what is needed to your little one and your family.
    Since I come from a family of four siblings, I understand the value of how vital to have my parents around to teach me the core foundations of growing up.
    Therefore, You mentioned you work flexible hours, specifically how many hours is considered flexible? By reading your story and relating where you’re coming from as an aunt (I babysit my newborn nephew) I want to share to you, if you are are open to new opportunities to be absolutely free (free financially, relationship building and more) to be a full-time mom, wife and what ever your dream may be. You may email me to discuss a knowledgeable way to seek an opportunity. You have so much potential and fire in you that it would be self-fish of me to not share this opportunity with you. Thanks for sharing your lovely story.

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