When I got pregnant, I didn’t know the slightest thing about raising a baby. I’d had zero experience and zero exposure. Here I was, about to give birth to the most important person in my life, and I had no idea what to do with her! And so began the self-education. I read book after book, talked to mom after mom, went to class after class, all to assure myself that by the time she came, I was prepared to be the best mom I could possibly be for my little girl. Before SJ even arrived on the scene, I had developed very strong convictions about how I was going to raise my child. But I quickly learned that you absolutely have to be flexible. And you have to learn how to forgive yourself during those times when you wish you could do more.
Being a working mom, I feel an incredible amount of pressure to be a “good mom.” For me, it’s even more difficult, because I don’t have a 9 to 5 job. There are several occasions I can recall where I had to stay late at the office, missing dinner, missing bath time, missing bed time. It breaks my heart every time. Contrary to most parents, I often hope that that my baby won’t sleep through the night, just so I can snuggle her back to sleep and sing her lullabies before morning. And when she does cry during the night, I more-often-than-not pick her right up — even though I know every sleep-training book on the shelf tells you not to — because I so want to comfort her and remind her that her mommy loves her.
It’s a harsh reality, but the truth is that I can’t be the ideal mother that I envisioned I would be. There quite simply isn’t enough time in the day. It is a hard pill to swallow, hearing SJ’s dad advising me on her habits, her likes and dislikes, what “new” thing she accomplished that day. But I have to remind myself that even though I can’t be home all the time, and even though I don’t have the luxury of spending every waking day with her, I am being a good mom in other ways. Every moment I’m not at home, I’m working to provide her security inside a safe and happy home. I try to make the time I do have with her count. And even though I can’t be there all the time, thanks to my income, her father can be home with her. In the end, it has to be about SJ and what’s best for her.
It’s not easy. Some days I truly worry that SJ won’t know me the way I want her to, that she won’t feel attached to me the way she does her father. Other days, I feel empowered, knowing that I can provide for my family; I feel proud that I can be an example for my daughter of a modern woman who fought convention and ended up with a great career and an amazing family. It’s a balancing act for sure, and one that I’m still learning to master. But as long as my daughter knows that she has two, very loving parents who are there to support her, I really believe that is the most important thing of all.
I know I’m not alone and that many professional women struggle with competing pressures, always feeling like they can’t dedicate 100% of their effort to any one thing because they are constantly spread too thin. But you have to do the best with what you have. And I think most of you working moms will find that even if, in reality, you aren’t that perfect picture of a mother you’d imagined you would be, you’re still doing a pretty good job, anyway.