Wednesday, October 6, 2010
Motherhood and Working
I have been thinking that it's about time to debrief a little on how this transition to motherhood has been working out for me. It's something that I think about a lot, and I think it deserves a post.
Before Marcos and I were married, I made it clear that I was the type of woman who would very likely not remain at home full-time during the decades that we would raise our children. In all honesty, I don't consider myself a particularly ambitious person as far as fame and fortune goes, but I always felt that I would be in the best place as a woman, wife and mother if I had something in my life that was all my own.
When we discovered that we were expecting Gigi, I had recently finished my Masters degree and I was as yet without a job, so I prepared myself mentally for the idea that I would likely be at home with a baby for at least a year, which coincided with my breastfeeding goal. I kind of liked the idea of being with Gigi for a year, but that meant real preparation: knowing that I am a social creature and that even happy people can become depressed when they are isolated with a baby and have little contact with supportive and loving people, I began to broaden my network of support. For years I have worked on building friendships in my church and graduate school communities, but it was time to up the ante: my friend Aline connected me with an awesome local playgroup in Chapel Hill, my friend Angela started a fun mommies talk group for all of her friends and coworkers who were pregnant, and I attended a few La Leche League meetings to check out the network there. Sure, all of my initial aims were in the same direction - the world of motherhood - but I was going to get educated, and darn it, I was going to have fun and build ties in the process.
When Gigi came along it was time to disconnect from the world for a few weeks as we loved our new little being. Those first few weeks we were so busy adjusting to life with a little baby and enjoying our friends and family that we lacked nothing from the outside world. Slowly, life became more routine and I started to pick up my projects again during the small holes of time Gigi's naps allowed me, and our social life continued to keep us busy. We learned how to plan in extra time to get Gigi packed and ready to go, and she just joined our small family on our visits to friend's homes, our movie nights out, and our midnight grocery store runs. She was a natural at being a Prieto: always up for a spontaneous social event or a late night outing.
Then within a month or two after Gigi was born, my boss from graduate school contacted me with a proposition: she was going out on maternity leave starting in August, and wanted to know if I was up for taking her responsibilities half time for the better part of a year. After much praying and thinking and deliberating, I could not shake my impression to just GO for it! A demanding but exciting job, great coworkers and the perfect set-up of having Marcos home with Gigi on the days that I worked made for a sure win. Even though Gigi was only about four months old when I started working, between Marcos' heaps of love and support and a trusty breastpump, what started off as a crazy idea has become a fairly successful venture.
And so here I am two months into my half-time job, happier than ever to be Gigi's mom and to be a working mom. I have had many people ask how work is going, and I have nothing bad to say about it. At first I felt overwhelmed with the sheer amount of things that needed to get done, but as with all things in life, day by day things are accomplished, deadlines come and go, and life moves on. Working has, very importantly, given me a chance to prove to myself that I am a productive worker with important contributions, which has allowed me to discard some baggage that I had coming into this job. Additionally, I have landed myself into an office full of women who have created a thriving office culture of birthday parties full of gifts and food, Christmas luncheons, and a lot of support, laughter, and kindness. Sure, being a working mom means that something inevitably will suffer, but since the main suffering has been the dishes piling up in the sink, it's a price we are willing to pay. If working meant tedious tasks, awful hours and having Gigi in daycare I would not have taken this job, but I knew that it would be a good situation, and so far it has exceeded my expectations.
And talk about expectations being exceeded: have you seen this little girl lately? I know that my brain is wired in a special way to love my Gigi more than life itself, but I have a hard time containing my happiness about being her mom. Which is good, because the most important work I will ever do will be within the walls of my own home. Hands down.