Note from Susan: Please welcome back to WMAG our guest blogger Sarah Travaglio, who was inspired by a recent reader’s question about going back to work (and business travel) after maternity leave.
Like the rest of you working mommies out there, I couldn’t help but feel a twinge (ok, it was more like a heart attack) of guilt the first day I left my son to go back to work. He was 6 weeks and 4 days old, at the time. I was still fighting the baby blues and having a miserable time nursing. Things just weren’t quite as bright and cheery as I had anticipated. The LAST thing I wanted to do was leave my baby (even though I was looking forward to a break from the “colic”) and venture back into the world of middle-aged men—the Army in my case.
Luckily, my husband’s parents lived less than 10 minutes from our house in Naples, Italy. Considering the use of child care outside of the immediate family is insulting in the Italian tradition, so we gladly obliged, and let my mother-in-law take over. Even though I knew that I was leaving my son with an even more qualified babysitter than I was myself (heck, I had never raised a kid—she successfully raised two), I felt so guilty leaving the little guy, and focusing my attention on work. Well, I’m not sure if “focus” is the word I should use, since I don’t think that ability returned until we were sleeping all night—which hit around the one YEAR mark.
Being the research-y, google-y, type mom I am (couldn’t survive without WebMD), I searched for information on the internet about when a baby starts to develop their sense of time and memories. Come to find out the kid can hardly see for the first few months, let alone realize you left them for eight hours. A baby’s sense of time doesn’t start developing until long after you’ve gotten over your guilt and back into your comfortable working mom routine! I was thrilled to read this.
Even now, my son being a year and a half old, I still feel a little guilty about enjoying my time in the office, while he is at preschool nine hours a day, but then I remind myself that he is being taken care of exceptionally well, is no doubt having more fun with his teachers and classmates than he would be with me in the house—and to top it off, he hasn’t really started forming memories yet, and has no sense of time! Ahh, working-mom-guilt-factor = 0.