With my first, I went back to work at 5 weeks postpartum. I was a nanny, and had worked for the same family for several years, so I got to bring my baby with me. Which was good, because everyone seemed to have opinions like, “you’re not going to leave your baby to take care of someone else’s babies, right?”
There were positives and negatives to this arrangement, but the weird part I didn’t expect was the outlier aspects. I had my baby with me all day, so I was sort of a stay at home mom. On the other hand we had to deal with packing lunches and getting out the door every morning and negotiating employer issues, so I was totally a working mom too. In retrospect I think some moms resented this arrangement a little, being able to still earn a pretty cushy income and not have to pay most of it back in childcare costs. One friend in particular seemed to bristle every time I complained about the isolation of parenting, “but you’re working!” she’d respond. Yes. I was working. All alone with 3 kids 14 hours a day.
When the twins in my care got a particularly nasty case of hand, foot, and mouth from school and passed it on to my 7 month old son, things got ugly for a while. The other moms in my first time moms playgroup all but blamed me for exposing him to it and a few said they weren’t sure they wanted me around all their babies, because who knew what we’d be carrying, with kids in kindergarten all day?
As far as I can tell, my situation excluded, moms who go back to work after having a baby have few options. And it seems like every one carries it’s own set of judgements.
A friend of mine went back to work early to prove how devoted to her company she was and was met with:
Another got no sympathy for her tired eyes and was all but blamed for having a kid who didn’t sleep through the night.
I know a few moms who do the stay-at-home dad thing, and that seems to get the brunt of the judgement. Because, you know, dad’s aren’t nurturing. Or something.
Every working mom has one of those horror stories. My sister had to sit through a meeting with an executive with breastmilk spilled down the front of her dress because she was pumping in a hurry. Then there’s the downright incompetence in your absence:
And by the way single moms, doing it al, deserve some kind of freaking medal or glass of wine, a little flexibility in the work place, not this illegal bullshit
And when you’re not dealing with your own tsunami life, postpartum hormones, work/life balance, scheduling and partner issues, you also get tons of helpful advice like this
In the end I managed to work as a nanny until I was 8 months pregnant with my second child. And by then I’d heard the full range of sanctimonious comments anyway. As far as I understand, nobody works for fun (or maybe I should say very very few people work for fun) and figuring out how to earn income while dealing with a whole new tiny person is hard enough, how about we give each other some grace, some flexibility, and little understanding instead?