From Chicken Soup for the Working Mom's Soul


The prospect of returning to work after Erin was born was nauseating. I approached my employer about a job-share arrangement and found that it was a fairly new policy and not very user-friendly. I soon located a job share in my field with a different employer. It was a fifteen-minute commute down country roads and a satisfying job (with a little promotion to boot!). Then I was on the hunt for a caregiver.

My mother had been a stay-at-home mom and so had her mother. My older sister had been able to stay at home, and when her kids got older, she worked from home. My auntie had stayed home, too. These women, the role models in my life, all very much wanted for me to be able to stay home with my kids. All were excited that if I had to go back to work, at least I was able to work only half-time. None of them had really walked in my shoes.

For the first time, I had no role models. None of them had ever had to recruit and hire a caregiver—someone so vital to the family, who would care for our babies many days per week, who would teach and nurture them, who would be a part of their upbringing and their memories.

We lucked out. Through word of mouth from a former colleague, we found a fabulous lady with home day care who was on the bus route and had her own young children. For a year and a half, I worked this ideal job-share arrangement: Thursday and Friday one week, Monday through Wednesday the next, followed by one whole week off with the kids. Boardroom one day, playgroup the next. A dream come true.

Then, as the reality of today’s world goes, there were layoffs (luckily, my position went unscathed), but a few months later, my job-share partner resigned. Loving my job and wanting to plan ahead for uncertain times, I decided to apply for the other half of my job and return to work full time.

It’s been three months since I took on the full-time role. Things are going well, but I am still walking a tightrope some days, trying to find “the balance.” My husband has been most supportive, allowing me to make my own decisions, alleviating the “bad mother” guilt at all the right times. I am trying to keep my work life out of family time, but sometimes home life creeps into work. I guess that’s because my job is only something I do, but being a mom is part of who I am. I think that brings a lot to my job.

I love my two kids more than anything. I have been aworking mom, a stay-at-home mom, and a hybrid of the two— none of which have made me any less of a mother to them.

If ever I could be a role model to working moms, I would tell them these things:

1. A great caregiver is paramount. You need someone who feels like extended family, someplace where you know your kids will be listened to and loved, a situation in which after a while you don’t feel the need to call several times a day to check in.

2. Job shares are terrific! They are a great way to ease back to work, if you can manage one.

3. A supportive spouse is a must—you are a team! A spouse can reassure you, alleviate the guilt, and do the laundry!

4. Balance is key; as much as possible, leave the work at work. When you are at home, give the family (yourself included) your full attention, and take from them enough to fill your heart every day. Read books, work outside together, play, snuggle lots.

The word “momentum” has “mom” at the start for a reason! We are constantly in motion no matter what hat we’re wearing—and we should be able to love every minute of it!

Jennifer Nicholson

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