In the beginning, you tend to waver a lot to the right, then a lot to the left. After some practice, you manage to walk in a straight line. No, I am not referring to a wild moms night out nor am I referring to Gymnastics. I am talking about one of the biggest dilemmas many moms tend to have at one point or the other, and that is the infamous 'work and mom life balance' dilemma.
I have never particularly loved the phrase 'a working mom' as being a mom is a full time job in itself. Just because you do not have to leave the house for this job, does not mean you are not working. Being a mom is the hardest job of all because you are on the move from the moment you wake up till the moment you sleep at night. But the best past about this job - you don't have to be away from your child to do it. Then there are the 'office jobs' which at some point after having a child, moms who have an office job need to get back to.
For me, in spite of living in India with an amazing support system at home, and with the knowledge that my son would be surrounded by people all the time, going back to work when my son was 8 months old made me feel like the worst mom in the world. I had a guilty feeling gnawing at me from the minute I made the decision to go back and I just could not seem to shake it off. But I knew that I had to take the first step at some point and sooner the better. I am a part of the family business which gives me flexibility when it comes to timings but it also does not mean that I can take advantage and show up for just an hour every day. Trying to balance out how many hours to spend at home with my son and spend at work felt like the biggest decision I had to ever make at that time.
At 8 months, a child is capable of understanding who is around him/her and can feel the time spent or not spent by the parents. This is what I realised worried me the most; I was afraid that being away from my son would somehow make him feel like he was being abandoned by the person he depended on the most, and that I did not want to be around him. I have always been told that the first seven years of a child's life is 'mother-centric' and the next seven, 'father-centric'. Did this mean that if I started working again, he would stop considering me his main caretaker? Would he love me any less? What if he refused to come to me when I wanted to carry him? This is what I later termed as NMPS - New Mom Panic Syndrome, which of course happened to apply to many situations apart from this one. I am hoping this syndrome does not re-occur once my second child is born.
I ended up timing my work hours exactly during his nap times, which happened to be 3 times a day when I started work. After a few weeks of being at work, I realised that he was not showing any signs of withdrawing from me but in fact the exact opposite - he was having the best time at home amongst his toys and being the centre of attention! It also made him understand at an extremely early age that there was life beyond his parents and there were others who were also considered his caretakers. As long as he saw me return home, he was happy. He was secure. His independence was being nurtured in many ways. Being at work changed me as well and made me a calmer mom, having had time to focus on something else other than my son.
So to all those moms-to-be and new moms who need to get back to work after your child is born - some days you will have no idea how you are going to do it, but every single day it will still get done. Whether your work schedule is rigid or flexible, the guilt factor is universal. Look at it this way - as a mom you never actually leave your child at home; they are always in your heart and on your mind.