Friday, February 03, 2012

the working mom thing

The saying goes... "A lot has changed since I was your age." I realized this the other day as I was showing my mum how my breast pump worked. She just couldn't believe the high-tech contraption before her eyes. She exclaimed, "We didn't have those when I was nursing." Whether or not that's entirely true I can't say, but in any case, she raised three children without one and breast-fed us all. I asked her how she managed to do such a thing and she told me a story of one time when she was at a basket weaving class and my dad had to bring my sister down to the class because she was hungry and needed to be fed.

Have you ever heard of such a thing? Of course, my mother wasn't working at the time either.

In fact, I know a lot of people my age whose mums stayed at home when they were kids. I was chatting with my friend Nicci about this the other day. Growing up, neither of our families had a ton of money but we were happy and somehow our parents just made it work. Why can't we do that? Why does the stay-at-home mom thing seem so out of the question?

Well, for one, there's the money thing. Oh that. Yes, we'd have half the income if I quit my job to stay at home. But we wouldn't be destitute. We'd manage. We'd have to sell our house and move out of Burlington, yes. We'd have to change our lifestyle dramatically, but we could do it. If we really wanted to.

Thing is, after several long emotional discussions, neither Colin or I felt like it was the right thing to do. So we made the decision that I would take my maternity leave and then return to work after 12 weeks. We lined up childcare—we lucked out with a really great part-time nanny (my sister!) and an amazing daycare center for the rest of time. We felt good about it.

But all during my pregnancy I felt this guilt over the fact that I'd be returning to work after 3 months. I had these nostalgic visions about my own childhood at home with my mother and sisters. I look up to my mother for teaching me how to read and for inspiring me through art and nature. Will our children miss out if they have to go to daycare instead? Will they have the same amazing childhood experience as I did? Will they have the nature walks? The art sessions? Will they read their primers on a blanket on the front lawn with their picnic lunch?

Now that my maternity leave is more than half-way through, those doubts have been resurfacing lately. But then I read this great blog post by Momastery and was reminded that I will probably feel guilty no matter what I do, so I should stop wasting my time worrying about it. And yes, they will go on nature walks!

Beyond helping out a working mom, that breast pump represents a certain freedom. Maybe that's something my mother and other mothers back then always wished they had more of. I love nursing our baby girl. And that breast pump means that Colin can also enjoy (nearly) the same feeding-bonding experience, while I take a couple hours to myself to go get a hair cut or go to yoga or maybe even a basket weaving class.

Do they even have those nowadays?

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