Nothing made me want to go to work less than having a baby. Suddenly, work, which was once a place that fulfilled the professional side of me and more importantly funded everything from our mortgage to celebratory European excursions, became something of little significance. My daughter's achingly pure, blue eyes met mine and I felt rich. I'd recently graduated with my master's degree and never anticipated I would become a stay-at-home mom.
The world looked different with my daughter in it, and without hesitation, I easily walked away from my career, trading in my heels for yoga pants. Instead of corporate climbing, I rocked my days away and held my heart in my arms, feeling a steadfast sense of contentment that soothed me and erased my flaws. Dabbling in domesticity, I pureed homemade baby food, baked bread and regularly attended baby gym.
Around my daughter's first birthday, I began to feel the professional flame light up inside me again. I returned to the corporate world in a contract capacity and slipped back into heels and meetings as if I'd never left. Time is an enigma, and before I could settle in a full-time role, I was pregnant again.
Remembering how motherhood washed over me with my daughter, I decided I'd take a year to be a stay-at-home mom again. I was single mindedly looking forward to floating in the magic baby bubble and delighting in memorable newborn moments for the second time around. But my experience with my son was entirely different. Instead of soaking in baby euphoria, I suffocated on anxiety.
My son had acid reflux and was in the zero percentile for weight. I felt extra pressure as his sole food source and got even less sleep than typical new moms. I had to constantly wake to nurse due to his low weight. The stress and sleep deprivation was unbearable. My personality vanished. It ran away and left me with somebody I didn't recognize. It became hard to stay patient. I was quick to anger with my daughter, who was struggling to adjust to a new baby brother.
Calmness was a thing of the past, and chaos was the new normal. I was screaming on the inside as I gave my days over to my children. If anyone was experiencing failure to thrive, it was me. I desperately missed my career. I'd wake with drudgery, faced with another long day ahead of caretaking and tending to constant needs.
Running on fumes and snippets of sleep, I'd find myself daydreaming about sitting in a quiet office, with a piping, hot cup of coffee next to me, and the Internet at my fingertips. I regretted taking time off to be a full-time mom, feeling I would have been better off if I'd continued working and had a daily break from the never-ending neediness. I longed for adult interaction, even missed meetings.
My break came after my son turned 1. I landed a part-time job that felt like it fit just right. Showering before noon and dressing for work was a dream. On my first day, I ate lunch alone, and it was heaven. Nobody needed me, and I relished in that fact.
I am a better mom because I work outside of the home. Utilizing my skills and talents in a professional manner fulfills a part of me that dimmed—but never fully burned out—after my kids were born. My part-time role slowly ramped up, and I'm now a full-time working mama. I am happier and lighter. Working allows me time to miss my kids. At the end of the day, I head home feeling reenergized and excited to see two smiling faces.