Question: I’m 26 years old and been married for 2 1/2 years. My husband and I are thinking about starting a family soon. I will be a working mother with full time 8:30 – 5:00 job. My main concern is, will I have time to spend with my children? I can see myself having a “nervous breakdown” stressing over getting ready for work and talking care of a child. I’m so scared I’m going to miss out on all the important things in my child’s life. Please help me!
Answer: You will have a very lucky child, who has parents who care so much that they prepared long in advance for his or her arrival!
Start the parenting-partnership now. Talk with your husband about your fears and your concerns. Talk about:
- what it means to each of you to become a mother and a father,
- the logistics of caregiving (doctor appointments, childcare, baths and middle-of-the-night feedings),
- juggling work and family, and
- the values and goals you share that will unite you through difficulties.
Start collecting real-life stories from mothers and couples who have made the transition from “two” to “three.” Check out the bookstores for a wide range of personal experiences. Talk to your peers at work who can discuss the reality of becoming a parent at your workplace. Talk to your friends and to strangers with children in grocery-store lines. Then, be ready to turn off the “advice” when you’ve had enough.
Working mothers are very resourceful at juggling often conflicting demands. You will learn, as all parents do, through trial-and-error. There are lots of working moms who manage to continue with full schedules by building strong support networks at home. There are also many moms who find creative ways to adjust their work obligations to take on the additional responsibilities at home. Whatever you choose:
- You will create a circle of loving adults around your baby (yourself, dad, relatives, friends, a special caregiver)
- You will develop new routines that help you to manage all those new baby tasks (some things that are important now will no longer be important)
- You will create new priorities and “playing” will be one of them
- Your work-life will be better if you as a person are happier
- You will learn that asking for help is a positive trait
You will make choices based on what is right for you, your family, and your child. Be informed but keep an open mind – some decisions cannot be made until you get there.
There may be a few “nervous breakdowns” along the way because there will be many things you can’t anticipate and can’t control. But believe me; you are never alone in these struggles. You will have websites like BlueSuitMom.com, books and resources for every question and every contingency, and a connection to all those other mothers who share and understand your uncertainties. It won’t always be easy but you will somehow get to work (maybe not before your scheduled arrival time) and then come home to love and be loved. Trust in yourself – you will learn and grow as you take on new roles in your life.
Karen Deerwester, Ed.S.