ME: Working Mom vs. A SAHM

Funny Story: a BFF of mine (who is mother to a dog) asked me the other day what does SAHM” mean?

Read our Text Conversation:

“WTF?! Really? Why?”

• I probably would have said a year or so ago.

Today, right now, I get why she would want to be a SAHM.

I love being at home with my kids, really I do. Sure, there are good days, bad ones and downright UGLY, AWFUL, “I want to leave and never come back!” Days but in the past 8 months, I have become a changed woman.

It only took 2 kids, 3 years and a self inflicted demotion for me to figure some things about REAL LIFE out.

September 2014, I had my first baby girl who was/still is insanely gorgeous, cute, funny but extremely high maintenance. Sure, I can look back and smile now, but back then, I was in a dark, confusing, lonely world: Motherhood.

I knew it would be a huge adjustment but I had confidence in my maternal instincts. I had raised a puppy after all and anyone who has done that knows how hard it can be.

Yes, I just compared having a baby to raising a dog but the parallels are very similar so I went there. That’s why couples get a puppy before marriage and babies, it’s a test run!

Even though I had some fear, I was constantly reassured that I would love being a Mom and being off for a year would be wonderful! Lovely people I didn’t even know were always coming up to me, saying things like: “Enjoy it, it is amazing, you will love her,” “It goes by so quickly,” and “There is Nothing Else Like It.”

On the rare occasion, something slightly negative was said, it was just unsolicited, passive aggressive advice: “Get your sleep in now because you will never sleep the same again!” or “Make sure you try and breastfeed so you lose the weight quicker.” (True story)

But never, not once did someone say: “If you feel sad or lonely; call your mom to come over, talk to someone, do something.”

I did have one concern though when I got pregnant and it had nothing to do with my baby, pregnancy, birth, etc. – how would a baby and motherhood affect my career?

At exactly 15 weeks pregnant, I told my boss, clients and colleagues about my plan which was to take four and a half months off work and then I’d return in January, just in time for RRSP season.

Those Winter months are the busiest time of year for Bankers and I did not want to risk taking a full year. My decision was not financially motivated, the Canadian Government would PAY me to stay home if I chose to but I didn’t WANT to.

ME: “I don’t want to lose my clients, A year is too long! I don’t want anyone doubting my commitment to them….”

That was my thought process without even knowing what it would actually be like to have a real, live baby in my care. In fact, I hadn’t even changed a diaper or fed a baby before I had my own.

My only experience with babies was when I babysat my 3-year old cousin for a few hours. How on earth I thought by 4 months old, she would be ready for daycare is beyond me. I was thinking of myself and my career at that moment, very selfish and naive really. In my view, a whole year away from the Bank could potentially destroy a book of business I worked so hard to build.

Anything could happen: a market crash, interest rate changes, even a Political scandal could wreck havoc on portfolios and I felt I needed to be there just in case. My ambition to be successful in my career sealed my fate because once I said 4 months only, I felt there was no going back on my commitment to my clients and colleagues.

Everyone knows how the industry operates; when you step away long-term from your clients, someone else is always waiting to snatch them up and rip them away from you with promises of better returns or service.

I had myself convinced; four months off would be long enough for the both of us and she would love Daycare, right? She could play, socialize, nap…..it would be FINE!

I may not win any friends writing this but I don’t care because I know I am NOT the only one who felt this way. That and without their support, I would not have made it through this time.

I took it easy for those 10 months of pregnancy: sleeping like a sloth, eating whatever and whenever I wanted. For ONCE in my life, I literally had NO ANXIETY, which was kind of a big deal.

My mother told me it’s your body protecting the baby from stress, she was correct. I relished in getting her room decorated then set up and washing all of her little outfits in the “special soap to put in her new dresser. This was probably one of the most exciting times of my life and I made sure to document it with pictures and a new Baby Book.

Read my My Birth Story if you haven’t already then come back so the rest of this post makes better sense.

It was probably about two weeks after she was born when all the sudden, I felt like all of “this” wasn’t real, like it wasn’t for me. I vividly remember texting a BFF (also a Mother), basically asking her “When does it get better? I feel lost and like my life isn’t mine any more.”

She didn’t sugarcoat anything and tell me what I wanted to hear nor did she try to make me feel bad by saying “What did you expect it to be like?”, she simply said: “I know, it really sucks for awhile but it will get better. I promise.” I later learned her desperation was so severe she contemplated leaving home but thankfully, she got help.

It was awful feeling this way and so confusing.

Only just a week before, I was glowy, happy and thankful for my little love bug. I seriously contemplated extending my leave, even drafting an email to my boss but now I wanted to send my baby back (to where exactly, not sure) and be ME AGAIN: a career-driven, independent woman who showered alone, wore heels, makeup and puke-free clothing.

After being with her every single minute of the day for a month, I began to realize going back to work in 4 months would probably be insane. Not only was I struggling emotionally, she was just very high maintenance and the combination was, ummmmm….difficult? I would probably use another choice of words to describe this time but who knows, she may read this one day.

There is an actual label (one I don’t mind!) used to describe a high maintenance baby/toddler/kid. Of course, like so many other things our mothers (and other mothers) don’t tell you, you refer to these little ones as a “Spirited Child.”

Basically, it is a nicer way of saying: “Your kid is not just high maintenance but possibly mentally and emotionally unstable. She doesn’t like to sleep or she just could possibly have ADHD (because other mothers love to diagnose other people’s children). Oh and you suck at Parenting, may I add.”

READ: 8 Signs You Have A Spirited Child from Scary Mommy

(Read the article, it is a good one. If you do read it, I’ll have you know all 8 points were or still are true)

Early on I realized, I may have a “Spirited Child” although I didn’t know people called them that yet. I just thought she was more demanding then my friends babies, or maybe I was a horrible mother and there was something wrong with her.

She never slept longer than 3 hours (Day AND Night), only napped for 10-20 minutes at a time and only on me. Newborn Babies need like 22 hours of sleep so she would get really cranky and cry.

Only I felt like she cried too much so that must mean she is not a “Happy” baby.

An “unhappy” baby is a reflection of my mothering skills, I told myself.

I felt like I was in a downward spiral, like I had absolutely NO CONTROL over my emotions or my baby. Then all I wanted to do was go back to the place where I did have control: WORK.

No less than 1 month postpartum, I felt “I’m ready to go back to work” because being at home all day, just me and the baby (and our pets), was bringing me down emotionally and causing my anxiety levels to skyrocket.

On top of feeling like that, I also found having a baby right before the cold weather starts made it worse. We would take the occasional walk with the dog or visit with friends but then I was worried she would get sick, I hunkered down in my living room for hours with her, counting down the minutes until I could hand her over to my husband. When you isolate yourself like that, of course it will be bad.

A few times, the Bank would call me to ask questions about a client or something which would throw me into a panic: “Are they ok?”, “Should I come in?”, “Give me their phone number, I’ll call them myself!” The Planner covering my book must’ve thought I was insane. He told me to chill out, enjoy maternity leave and stop worrying. I really wanted to do that but between worrying about my baby and the perceived demands of my chosen profession, I didn’t ALLOW myself to enjoy this once in a lifetime experience.

I convinced myself a year long maternity leave would kill my career.

I believed I didn’t want to be a SAHM because a Career was just as important as raising my child.

I’ll always regret just taking 4 months off when I could have spent more time with her.

I love her with all of my heart and she is perfect to me, but in those first 4 months of her life, I was a wreck. I created that mess though by putting unhealthy thoughts in my head and setting unrealistic goals just so I could prove to everyone (and myself) I could do/have it ALL.

I returned to work as promised in January 2015 but with a new plan in place: Paternity Leave.

My husband stepped up and did the most amazing thing for his daughter and me, because of course there is a notion that only women should stay home with the baby. In Canada, Men are paid EI: Employment Insurance the same way we are and so he took 4 months off so she wouldn’t go to daycare until she was 8 months old.

We lucked out on that one and my return to work was bearable but still hard because I felt Mom Guilt….all the time. I felt especially bad during those summer months when I could have been at home with her, enjoying the nice weather.

Turns out no matter how well you may do professionally, you are replaceable and that was a hard lesson to learn. In the end, going back after just a four month leave didn’t mean anything because I couldn’t pass an exam required for my job; just one exam.

Between working and running a household, raising a baby and having a life; there was absolutely no time for me to really study hard for this exam I kept failing. I failed it 4 times until I finally ran out of chances and had to make a decision.

All of the numbers I had produced didn’t matter because I couldn’t achieve the one that did: 60%, the grade I needed to pass my exam and retain my license to practice. There are two different entities which license you to work as a Financial Planner and the Bank insisted on using this one. If it had been another Bank, I’d still be doing that role but like “they” always say: “Things Happen For a Reason.”

They certainly do…..

I ended up demoted back to my old position at the Bank but this time, working under an amazing woman who taught me valuable life lessons as she had gone through almost the exact scenario, job title and all, minus the exam fails. She is someone I respect so highly, she changed my life around to make me realize:

  • There are many chances in your career life but only one chance in raising your child.
  • You are replaceable. No matter how amazing you may think you are or how many amazing results you produce.
  • The women who believe their families “aren’t worth it” or can’t do both are actually the minority. Most women managers do place motherhood as a top priority, especially if they are moms too.
  • Work smarter, not longer. If you need to work 24/7 to produce results, you are not in the right job or you do have your priorities mixed up.
  • If Mommy isn’t happy, no one is happy.

I’ve been a different person in these last few months since my 2nd baby came into the world. Although I am still extremely focused on my career, it can’t and it doesn’t come first now. What I’ve learned is the right people actually share the same sentiment I now have which is your family does come first and you should never think otherwise.

If you do, then you need to take a hard look at your life because ultimately someone will suffer and I’m thankful it was me who did and not my beautiful babies.

You can’t have it all, but you can still be extremely successful professionally and personally if you actually place realistic expectations on yourself. I don’t know how most women leave their babies so quick because they have to, in the USA for instance, where there is no government maternity/parental leave or parental benefits.

Four months is not very long after you have a baby in terms of recovery, bonding, and building up their routines. Yes, my 1st child is and was “Spirited,” that’s not even a question but how much of it was made worse by my inability to sit back and actually ENJOY HER, not worry about going back to work.

This time around, I’ve made it all about them and I am happy. I don’t feel any where near the way I did before about being a SAHM because I am not one, I am just a Mom.

There is no such thing as just staying at home when you have kids because if you let them, they will take you places you never imagined.

To the moms who do give up their careers, I applaud you because this really is the hardest (unpaid) job in the world but by making that sacrifice, you are making a difference. I will have to go back to work and when that day comes, I will feel sad but this time I’ll have amazing memories to look back on because I actually took the time to enjoy it.

10 thoughts on “ME: Working Mom vs. A SAHM

    • mommythebanker says:

      Riggghhhhttt?! Lol it was insane. She is still VERY Spirited but it has been evened out with a solid routine, daycare and socialization with non-spirited kids.

      Like

  1. mommythebanker says:

    I was told by my Dr to just let her “cry it out” which eventually worked but took a lot longer than it should’ve. She didn’t sleep thru the night until she was 16 months old? We did the check in version where you go in and out a few times to reassure but she would pop up again like hey guys I’m up!

    Like

  2. Lauren says:

    This post struck a cord, as I am currently in the trenches with our first! I have no clue WHY no friends warned me about the “new born stage/fourth trimester/hell” LOL. The constant need, ,patience,lack of sleep, struggle breastfeeding ( who the knew that was a thing, isn’t it supposed to be natural and pain free)?! and irritability towards your partner, and sheer loneliness that is felt at this time was something I was not prepared for/did not expect at all. It wasn’t until I started voicing my feelings that all my mom friends were like oh yah and shared their stories. This is so so so important and NEEDS to be addressed so that others don’t feel like it’s just them or that they are alone when embarking on this whole parenting journey. Thank god for friends with listening ears as an outlet… I can’t believe I made it or of 0-3 months alive. As much as I love her, the newborn stage is not for me (yup I said it, and will not miss it one bit…insert judgement here)! Can’t wait for her to be a little bit older and be able to communicate and not solely rely on us for every little thing!

    Liked by 1 person

    • mommythebanker says:

      Oh no you are NOT alone.,,it is dreadful and then you feel mom guilt because you think of all the women who want kids, can’t have any or how much your baby loves you….it’s a spiral of emotions. I’m glad my post reached you and I am here if you ever need to vent. Don’t ever feel guilty for feeling this way because it’s huge life change. I forgot to address the stress it caused in our marriage but probably wouldn’t have gone too deep into that anyway as he did take time off to stay with her….ah well. Stay strong mama

      Like

  3. Daniel Thomas Whittington (KingVargr) says:

    Hey, I really enjoyed reading the post and I understand how difficult the situation is due to having full custody of my daughter myself, and it’s such a massive change. But, even with being at university while being the only parent in my daughter’s life, I wouldn’t change it now. It’s something magical and I’m pretty sure I’ve learned more from her than she’s learned from me, so far–haha.

    Liked by 1 person

    • mommythebanker says:

      That is quite an amazing job you have there being a single dad. I was raised by a single mom myself. So it’s all on you, all the time. Thanks for your support and you have mine ❤️

      Like

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