Check out what one working mother has to say about guilt, household roles, and getting pregnant for the second time.
I’m beginning the journey of motherhood again. I spent the first time completely freaked out that everything I thought and did would somehow impact the baby. The second time I’m feeling a little more relaxed (complete relaxation is not in my genetic make-up), so I thought I would chronicle my journey. And what better place to do that than amongst other women (and men), many of whom have probably shared my similar experiences.
For my first chronicle, I thought I would share a little bit about myself. I am a lawyer who spends far too many hours meeting clients’ demands in my big downtown office. My husband, also an attorney, works for himself and not “the man.” As a result, his career is much more fulfilling, but mine pays the bills. Together we have an inquisitive two and a half year old who spends her days amongst her books and friends at a wonderful daycare a block away from my office. We also have a dog and two cats who I swore would never loose their rank in our house after our first born. If they could talk, they would tell you they’re lucky to get a sideways glance as we come and go. Out of guilt, we occasionally let them sleep in the bed or curl up on the couch. But, luckily or unluckily, our daughter, Analee, has begun to turn more and more of her attention to them.
Despite the many changes bringing Analee into the world has meant for our family, most days run fairly smoothly with everyone bathed, fed and clothed. In nine months, however, everything will turn back upside down as we introduce the newest member to our family. So how did I get here, aside from the obvious?
Well, in my perfect world, the one that I carefully design when I can’t sleep at night, I would have three kids, each two years apart. Seeing as Analee is 2 ½ and I’m barely one month pregnant; my plan did not work out. And not for the reasons you may be thinking. Shortly after Analee turned one, I looked at my husband and said “There is no way I’m having another baby right now.” Not because Analee was hard work. Quite the opposite…
She was finally sleeping through the night. I didn’t feel guilty every time I went to the office or worse, every time I spent precious evening or weekend hours out with my girlfriends. I finally felt human again. I finally had some of the “me” back in my life. And I was not about to throw it all away. But as one turned to two, my longing for a bigger family became stronger than my longing for weekend pedicures with my friends. So, here I am. Pregnant again. And with it, our family has already begun to change.
Top on the lists of changes, “Supermom” is spending more and more of my free time on the couch or in bed. Translation, Analee and my husband are learning to cope without my being at their beck and call, a required adjustment before the little one arrives. You see, I suffer from extreme working mom guilt. Or, I should say suffered. I was raised by a stay-at-home mom. It was my vision of a mother. When my husband and I were dating, we agreed that when we had children I would stay at home. But, as is often the case, master plans don’t go as planned.
I landed a high-paying job. He didn’t. And by most Mondays I’m ready to head back to the office and leave Elmo behind. But the little voice in my head that tells me I would be a better mother if I didn’t work also tells me that I must take care of Analee’s every need without the help of my husband. For the first year I didn’t let him make her a meal, give her a bath, or put her to bed. If I was home, I was in charge. And if I wasn’t home, I would cry that I couldn’t be home. As a result, and not surprisingly, my husband took a rather back seat roll in Analee’s life. Not that he wasn’t around. That wasn’t true at all. He was the fun one. But when it came time to basic needs, Mom was who both Analee and my husband turned to.
Well, my extreme working mom guilt subsided about the same time I decided I was ready for number two. But getting my daughter and husband to adjust to the new rolls I’ve carved out for them has been more challenging. And not for a lack of effort on my part. But my husband tuned out most of my requests for additional help as wifely nagging. And Analee would cry for Mommy any time I was home but not affixed to her side. But now that I can rarely be moved from my perch on the couch, Daddy takes care of dinner, bath and bedtime. With this change, a wonderful thing has happened! Analee doesn’t always cry for mommy. And even if she does, daddy is an accepted second. Don’t get me wrong, my heart tugs every time she cries for Daddy instead of Mommy. But then I quickly nod back off into slumber happily knowing that she’s in the wonderful arms of her Daddy.