I’m a whopping 7 weeks in to life as a working mom. I anticipated that balancing my nurse practitioner career with motherhood might present a challenge at times. And, I was right. What I couldn’t predict was exactly how I’d feel when I left my baby boy in the morning for work and he looked at me sweetly with those big blue eyes as I handed him over to the babysitter.
To be clear, while it’s tough to part with Whit, I do know that for me continuing to work is the right decision. Not only is it an important financial consideration for my family, I also love my work as an NP. Mixing a home life with the working world keeps me mentally on my toes and brings some variety to the day to day.
Just seven weeks in by no means do I consider myself an expert mom, but I’m learning everyday. So, for those of you who have kids, are thinking of children in the future, or who are expert mothers who double as nurse practitioners, I’ll share my insights into handling this mom guilt phenomenon so far.
1. The more people who love my child the better
One of our babysitters knit a little hat for Whit. When she gave it to me, I almost cried. It was such a sweet gesture and was a physical token of just how much she cared about him. Another of our babysitters takes pride in doing laundry, dishes, and literally scrubbing our house while we’re at work. Her cleaning and organizing efforts while I’m away allow me to spend quality time with the baby when I am home. I feel guilty when I part with that sweet infant face and smell to head to the hospital or office, but knowing that my son is loved by many definitely helps!
2. Investing in myself = an investment in my family
As a mom, I’m learning that sometimes you can’t win! When I’m home all day with the baby I start to feel cooped up and frustrated about my lack of productivity. When I’m at work, I feel like I should be focusing on the most important thing in my life right now, a new baby. What’s a girl to do?! I’m recognizing that maintaining hobbies, friends, and spending time on career pursuits provides me personal fulfillment. I feel my best mentally, emotionally and physically by including such activities and aspirations as part of my life making me a better mother and wife. I can’t give if I’m running on empty.
3. Create practical solutions
Flexibility has been the name of the game so far for me as a mom. And, being open to alternatives to my norm helps me maximize time with Whit, in turn minimizing mom guilt. In my pre-baby days, I worked early in the morning wrapping up charts, answering emails etc. These hours, however, are when Whit tends to be awake. If I’m working I feel like I’m missing out on the best part of him. So, I’ve adapted. Now I wrap up work in the evenings and devote mornings to tending to my newborn. These are simple realizations and solutions but sometimes making the change is a mental roadblock. I’ve learned to give new strategies and schedules a try.
4. Recognize love and caring for what it really is
Correct me if I’m wrong, but mom guilt is totally normal. Stay at home moms fault themselves for not contributing financially to the family. Working moms beat themselves up because they’re away from their kids. Really, what we’re all expressing with this feeling of guilt is love and caring. If I wasn’t guilty (or something similar) it would either mean I was perfect (yeah, right!) or I didn’t care. So, I’ve resolved to rename this feeling. Rather than guilt, I prefer to call it caring for or loving my child. Yes, he’s my main priority, but that doesn’t mean we’re together 100% of the time. Caring about my son and about the good of my family sometimes happens when we’re apart.
How do you handle mom guilt related to your nurse practitioner career?