What I’ve learned since returning to work
Six years ago when I left my part-time job in retail, I was six months pregnant with my first daughter. I didn’t ever intend to be a stay-at-home mom, but it’s not easy to hold down a regular journalism job while moving every year or two and having babies. So I opted to stay home with my two kids until the oldest one reached school age.
She’ll be in kindergarten next fall. The time is upon me. (gasp)
So here I am, entering a new phase (or returning to an old one, depending on how you look at it).
I started working back at the same retail store that I was at six years ago (about 25 hours a week). There is only ONE person left there that I know from back then. Time has, apparently, been marching on.
And so has fashion. I quickly learned how out of touch I was.
But here are the real lessons that this stay-at-home mom has learned since going back to work:
My kids struggle to say goodbye. If I leave for work while they’re at preschool, it doesn’t bother them because they are none the wiser. But if I have a night or weekend shift, my kids get pretty sad to see me go. We’re talking chasing my car down the driveway, sobbing in Daddy’s lap and little faces pressed against the tear-streaked window sad. I’m hoping it won’t last long, but it’s also a reality of life that they would have to face at some point, so I guess now is the time. Luckily the tears don’t last long, according to Daddy.
I am a queen when I return. As hard as it is for my kids to watch me leave for work, I am finally the recipient of those post-work hugs, kisses and snuggles! After years of watching my husband be the king each night as he returned home, I am finally the queen!
I missed talking to other women. After spending several years immersed in baby talk and cartoons, I find myself jumping at the opportunity to have conversations with grown-ups! I could seriously discuss the weather with just about anyone if it means that I don’t have to wipe their nose, spell any words to avoid being understood or remind them to “go potty.” And don’t even get me started on conversations about the really fun stuff, like fashion, pop culture and trashy TV shows that air on networks other than Disney Junior.
New roles in the household are a good thing. My husband and I have taken on fairly traditional male and female roles in our household over the past several years, solely out of necessity. I cared for the children, did most of the household cleaning and prepared most of the meals. He tackled things like yard work and the finances. But now everything is different. My hubby is picking kids up from preschool some days, in charge of dinner duties occasionally and putting them to bed solo sometimes. So far, I’ve been really impressed and thinking that maybe he’s been holding out on me! His culinary skills are on point and the kids make it to bed without a fuss in Mommy’s absence. Meanwhile I’ve been really into landscaping this spring because I want to get outside and enjoy the weather before my shifts!
I was taking time with my kids for granted. Now that I have to divide my time between work and home, I realize that I was not always taking full advantage of those precious hours alone with my kids for the past few years. I knew that there would be another day, week and month of round-the-clock mommy-and-me time coming, so sometimes I would put off activities or allow hours to slip by doing mindless things. Now I know that my time is limited so I plan diligently to maximize our days together. Don’t get me wrong, I know I did a lot of things well while I was home full time, but working has helped me shift my focus.
I have a renewed sense of self. With my kids attending preschool three days a week, I was starting to slip into a dark place. A place no woman and certainly no mommy wants to go to. I was questioning my self-worth and wondering whether I could still contribute to society outside of the realm of motherhood. The years passed so quickly and I wondered if anyone would want to hire a woman who had been on a 6-year hiatus. But they did. And it turns out that my gypsy mom skills are valuable in the workplace: time management, organization, attention to detail, managing multiple priorities and adaptability all come in handy no matter what line of work you’re in! After just a few weeks back in the working world, I feel more confident as a professional and more focused as a mother.
Although I’m only working part-time hours and in a field that doesn’t utilize my journalism degree, I’m relieved to have this transitional period to help me and my kids get accustomed to a new phase in our lives. And it’s not a bad way to rebuild my wardrobe, either!
-By Emily Shedek