The Post I Never Thought I’d Write: Falling In Love
I have no idea why sometimes I feel the need to get all personal and share my soul, but for some reason, it’s erupting again and I feel compelled to post some life updates.
My mom kept telling me the whole time I was pregnant, “You’re going to fall in love with that baby!” I was like, yes mom, I already love this baby, I’m sure I will love him more when I see his face on something aside a 3D screen. Of course you love your baby as a mom, but my wise mother was subtly explaining to me that when you’re expecting you have no idea just how much more love comes once the baby arrives, and you really can’t explain the feelings until you’ve experienced them.
The week after Mack was born Jacob was around and it felt like a vacation with this new precious bundle. The following week he went back to work and I felt a little disoriented. I was recovering fast, I was thrilled to be with my baby, I was surviving life home alone with a newborn, but I compulsively kept thinking about the projects and clients at work, and I kept hoping the app I had scheduled for launch was still on track to launch. I left my projects in super capable hands, but I still found myself worried and stressing and even logging into my email despite the HR director and my boss giving me very clear direction I legally shouldn’t be doing that on maternity leave before I left my last day. Clearly they knew me better than I knew myself! I did it anyway, and after about two weeks of this I found myself feeling less attached to projects and more and more attached to Mack. It took almost a month into motherhood, but I was able to let work go and turn off my email, realizing I had a limited precious time to be with my baby in this capacity.
Colic hit, and I kept thinking about how I wasn’t meant for crying, I’m not as patient as I hoped, and I thought a lot about work and how it would be a good break for me to go back. I thought about ending maternity leave sooner than later, but decided against it. I’m glad I didn’t, because after his first checkup he was diagnosed with reflux and some medicine and repositioning later lead us to an angel baby who was loads of fun with far less crying.
He started smiling around this time. He kept giving snuggles and cooing, and I could tell he knew me as his mommy. I found myself looking at my little miracle child I’d wanted and prayed for for so many years and often just weeping overwhelming tears of joy that this special, sweet baby was mine, and that motherhood was real. Jacob caught me a few times and let me know what a precious sight it was to see how much motherhood meant to me and a what a softie I was becoming! I started to understand what my mother meant, and I was truly bonding with this amazingly sweet baby in ways I never could have imagined! I was absolutely crazily falling in love with that baby!
I found myself thinking about work and suddenly crying every time I did, it crushed me to think about leaving my baby and losing the precious time with him. We also had daycare issues and nothing seemed to be working out or feeling right. I’d never toyed with the idea of staying home, but for the first time I did.
I can only describe the next month as sheer internal turmoil. I’m a social person, I love getting out and meeting people and being with people. I absolutely loved the people in my office, and I’m one of the few people lucky enough to say they really like their job! Digital strategy and project management with web and app-based projects really is such an amazing field to be in, and I was lucky enough to do it for some of the biggest, most cutting-edge companies in the world! How could I leave such a great company? How could I give up the career I worked so hard to build? I spent so much on my master’s degree in hopes of escaping teaching and overcoming the financial horrors of my abusive ex-husband, and was that just something I was going to shelf? I would cry each time I’d seriously consider quitting.
My inner feminist was dying at this thought. I know the economic statistics, and if you’re unaware, they aren’t pretty for women with children. They earn 4% less per child they have, and women who take time off typically cut their salary by a significant amount when they decide to go back. In a way, leaving a job feels like taking a huge leap back and planning to start all over hoping you get back into the club at a decent salary.
I would think these thoughts and resolve I’d shake these feelings, but I’d look into those beautiful eyes and I could just see how much he loved he, and how much he needed me and wanted me in his life.
I can’t even begin to describe the Paradox of Choice I was feeling and how soul racking it is to feel like you either have to have your child or career suffer. I think unless you’ve been there you can’t fathom the hell of making a huge decision like taking time off from a career or missing out on a fraction of your baby’s life.
I sought other women’s opinions and experiences. Most my friends claimed they were in jobs they didn’t care for or didn’t make much anyway and it really was no decision for them to leave. Some of my friends didn’t have the luxury of making the choice, economics either said they had to work to support their family or that they made so little in their career that childcare would cost more than staying home. The more I discussed it, the more guilt I felt that this decision was 1. A true decision for me coming from a place of privilege where it was worth it for me to keep working financially, but also plausible to live off one income if I quit. And 2. Not a clear cut-and-dry choice. It seemed like every woman I knew just always knew they would be a career woman and were thrilled to go back after having a baby, or dreamt of staying home and quit their job before the baby came. I kept wondering what was wrong with me that my love could be in two places at once. And, I was downright shocked that I seemed like the minority making this life-altering decision.
To add more salt to the wound, I turned to Jacob to try to get him to help me decide. He honestly didn’t care one way or another and wanted what was best for me and Mack. He knew how hard I’d worked for my career, and of course he knew how hard I’d worked and hoped to become a mother. He helped me realize that I could always try working and assess it after a set period of time. Around this time an awesome childcare opportunity to have a family member watch Mack at an affordable rate arose, and I knew I needed to go back to work to really assess how I felt. I went back shortly before the holidays, and I knew I’d have some time off to really weigh my options then.
I actually thought I’d go back and want to quit instantly missing my baby too much, but much to my surprise I was thrilled to be back. I loved seeing everyone again. I love my coworkers. My brain is wired for strategy, and I loved using it for such and seeing a difference in projects and client’s success rates. Two weeks in I was certain I was back for good.
Then something happened one day, I went to pick up Mack and he didn’t really seem to know me, and he wanted my sister-in-law instead of me. I started to seriously reconsider what I wanted. My office was so awesome and flexible and let me work from home often, but I realized I wasn’t paying enough attention to Mack, and he’s a little too social and demanding to really let me be 100% focused on work like I needed to be. Working from home with him full-time just wasn’t working. I decided it was time to talk to my boss and the CEO and just ask- could part-time be possible?
I took a few days off to speak at Alt Summit, and I took Mack with me. I loved spending my time with him. I couldn’t believe all the blogging opportunities and consulting opportunities that were coming up. I started to realize that maybe the inner entrepreneur could find a balance to everything, and over the week I decided to really get spiritual on my decision. It was looking like that could work out and consulting and blogging at night could make up what I’d miss out on part-time.
Things went much longer than we hoped, and it was actually months of working before anything came to a head. I kept feeling more and more drawn to being with my baby, and after a few months, we determined my role wasn’t going to work out part-time and that I’d really never be able to shut down and turn off clients at a part-time level. I had a coworker tell me she was planning to leave soon to be with her kids and said, “My theory is you can always go back to work, but you can never go back to them being little.” That stuck with me big time. Maybe the money wasn’t worth it for me. Maybe I would regret the time away from him being little more than a career advancement. I turned it to more of a spiritual level, I really toiled with this one, and finally one day I felt at peace about leaving my job. I felt like new opportunities were around the corner. I felt like something part-time could pop up, and I felt like consulting in content strategy, analytics, and digital marketing could really work out- and as my first loves would make me even happier.
I officially ended my time at a fast-paced digital agency at the end of February, and it’s taken me this long to be able to publicly say it. I cried a lot the day I quit, and cried again pulling out of the parking lot for the last time. It’s been that big of an identity crisis, that big of a pill to swallow, and that big of a change in my life.
SO HOW HAS IT GONE?
It depends on the week.
My first week felt like a relief to have time to eat and cook dinner again, and I could see how happy Mack was to be with me all the time. But I felt out of place and like it was just a vacation.
My second week felt amazing, free, and I was so thrilled with my choice.
My third week I missed being in the office. There are projects I still think about, I miss my coworkers who were also great friends. Teething almost killed me, and I wondered if I’d use my brain outside of routine baby endeavors laced in sleep deprivation.
My fourth week started out like the previous week, and there was a breakdown of tears of guilt wondering why I get to live a privileged life like this and others don’t. I guess when you’ve been a starving teacher in a hopeless marriage there are still hard pills to swallow, even happy wonderful ones that just make you wonder if you’re actually awake, and simultaneously aware of others who aren’t in such fortunate circumstances.
My fifth week I loved being with my sweet baby more than ever. I found myself saying prayer of thanks I have this. It also brought a cool consulting job. Blogging has really been a lot of fun (have you noticed more content?) and I’ve had some cool sponsored partnerships happen. It’s amazing what you can do with a little more time! Having time to do more has been amazing, and I feel blessed everyday this little hobby of mine has brought in some income, and so lucky to have an audience who supports me and puts up with the occasional sponsored post so I can still buy groceries!
And that takes us to now. I still miss my coworkers. I miss the structure. I miss the fast-paced life working downtown with some amazing lunches! I miss my paycheck. My life felt very Mad Men before, and sometimes that glamour and lifestyle seem so far away and missed. My main miss isn’t one as shallow, I miss how much I got to help clients.
But overall, I am so happy with my choices. I got to hear Mack say his first word- which was mom for the record! I’m running again! I’m going to the gym, and I’m cooking pretty much every night. I have had exactly four play dates now, and I’ve been late and/or forgot something for each one. I will keep trying and get there eventually! I have more time with Jacob, we’re dating more and not just grabbing take out to eat at home for our dates. I’m growing as a creative and a consultant. If you’re interested in chatting business send me an email, I have room for some more clients and that piece has really been so fun and rewarding for me.
But best of all, I’m doing what I think is the most important job in the world, I’m being a mom and I’m loving every minute of it.
*Pictures by Photography-Hill
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I liked reading through your dilemma. I felt similarly when I made my choice. It was slow, over about 6 months. I LOVED my job, the company and people fit like a glove for me. I was excited about work, and couldn't ever imagine leaving. (I was a corporate accountant). After maternity leave, I went back, then moved to working from home a few days/week.I loved both and felt so torn. Then one day Reid called me at work, and said “Clark just laughed for the first time!” That hit me like a ton of bricks. I could have been anywhere else – the grocery store, the gym,etc. – but since I was at work it really made me recognize that I'd be missing out on so much more as the days/years went on. I worked as a consultant for a few more months, and that eased the transition. Anyway…I feel you!
I love this post with all of my heart! I always told my husband that my dream would be to work part-time when we had kids. After my daughter was born I couldn't fathom leaving her. In fact, it felt physically impossible. wasn't expecting that. Our financial situation wasn't so sure, which meant we took a HUGE leap of faith and worked (and continue to work) really hard on our budget so that I can be home. I work from home part-time and have been blessed to find opportunities at every stop along the way. It was a scary decision and even though I WANTED to be home, the stress of figuring it out and the adjustment to not working was HUGE and took a toll on me. I'm just now finding my way and feel so blessed and honored as well. My daughter is now two and when we sit down to pray before breakfast or lunch we always express gratitude for the opportunity we have to be home together. I felt the same way, “I'll never get this back.” I'll never get these days back and I want to be there for her. I can definitely relate to your conflicted feelings, though. Before my daughter was born, I fantasized about this non-existent part-time dream job. After I resigned from teaching, my principal offered me that exact dream job–and was going to allow me to write my own schedule to mirror my husband's so we wouldn't have to put our daughter in daycare. I prayed about it and it was so hard to make the decision turn it down. A few months later, though, my husband took a position at a new company working 8-5 M-F and we were grateful that I was home so that he could take this position. Heavenly Father watches out for us, of that I'm certain. Congratulations! I think what you've done is so incredibly brave and so heartfelt.
This is a common dilemma for many women, and I know that your reflections will help others feel like they're not so alone in their struggle. Motherhood is such a blessing, and I'm so happy that you have this chance to spend with your adorable baby. Thank you for sharing your heart in this personal post! It was such an encouragement to read!
LOVED reading this and hearing the back and forth with your decision as well as how it's going now. I'm so excited for you and know that you'll never regret this time with Mack!!
You made the right decision. I promise you won't regret it. Children need their mothers.
Good for you Camille! I know it wasn't easy, but it will definitely be worth it! I know it's silly to say, but maybe not, but I'm proud of all the thought you put in to this and change isn't always easy. Finding that happy medium after much consideration means no regrets in the end. Thanks for sharing, it was a great read too!
This is perfect. All of it. I definitely could have written it myself, as far as being surprised by how I might want to stay home rather than just continuing furthering my career.
I loved this. Thanks for sharing your heart.
Thank you for sharing. I can completely relate to almost everything that you have said. I started my current position when my daughter was 10 weeks old. It was physically painful to be away from her, and it doesn't help that I struggle with my job. It is close to what I want to be doing, but not quite there. My husband was able to stay home with her until she was about 8 months old. I am glad that they had that bonding time. She has been in daycare for about the last year now, and most days it is a struggle between wanting to be home and financially needing to work. Our second baby is due in less than a week, and now I am faced with the decision again. I thought I had completely decided to not return to work, but it is so easy for fear and doubt to enter in. I don't want to miss out on either of them growing up, but as I earn a higher income, it is scary and will be a leap of faith either way. I am grateful for your words and expressions of feelings. It is good to know that other women also go through the same struggle and are willing to be open about it.
Thank you so much for sharing! This is a decision that I'll have to make someday, and have thought a lot about recently. It is good to hear a perspective that isn't black and white.
You are so incredible & inspiring!! Your thought process was so real and I especially can relate to the guilt and privilege talk you would give yourself sometimes – so darn real! I'm learning a lot from you as an upcoming mom. I wish you so, so much success and happiness for you & your family – it sounds like you're on the path you were supposed to find for yourself. And missing your work life as it was is just a representation of how awesome it was for the time you needed it! I am so happy to have read your perspective as I struggle with my own decision in this capacity! THANK YOU for being so honest and open!!
I think it's great that you are able to do what you want to do and spend time with Mack! I also think it's great that you acknowledge your position of privilege to have that option at all. I definitely want to be a stay at home mom some day but I also know financially it probably won't be in the cards. I guess who really knows, right? Your job does sound like it was super fun, though! Maybe I should apply 😉 (Just kidding. I'm still in college, lol)
Thank you for sharing. I'm feeling all of this currently.
Thank you very much for this post. Really. I've never felt undertood by anyone regarding work vs kids. Thank you, again. It is good not to feel alone.
It's refreshing to read your thoughts because I had similar thoughts also. I liked working, was a social person, of course the money was nice, but I never felt like it was a cut and dried decision; and they were very few women I found that I could relate to.
Blogging does provide a world of opportunities so I'm happy that you are able to blend motherhood with what you are good at. Enjoy but keep looking ahead and stay sharp. As your child he will definitely benefit from ALL of you.
Heyyyyyy there. So in general I've fallen off the boat (is that a phrase) in blog reading the last few months, but I saw this one posted the other day and read it but didn't have time to comment. But I'm back! I was so intrigued to read this having worked with you before and knowing the joy you genuinely get from having a career and using your education in a professional setting. I love that you can share this perspective — many articles I read on this topic either seem to come from people who never loved working so it was an easy decision to stay home, or people who never waffled on the decision to stay at work. I love that you showed the complexity of your choice as someone whose heart is sincerely in two places. I know you wouldn't have made this decision lightly and it shows in the way you wrote this as well. I will say that SOMEDAY I would love it if we both magically found our way back into an office together — I mean a girl can dream 🙂 Let's make it our 30-year plan? Cool. Cool. Thanks for all your support along MY career journey, and with getting into my MBA program. I absolutely love it so far and it's igniting such great things in me and I love that you were one of the few women I know personally who have MBAs who I could look up to in this regard and ask for advice. I'm 100% confident you'll channel all that good mentoring and intelligence and passion into your role as a mother as well. Excited to of course keep tabs on your journey in the future and watch your little babe grow up. Miss you and loved reading this from-the-heart post!
I really appreciate you sharing this and being so honest! It’s also great that you’re able to acknowledge your privilege in this situation and how you worked through all of your feelings about it. I’m currently pregnant with my first and have been struggling with the feeling that it’s just “giving up” by not going back to work, but I never even established my career fully before I got pregnant. I’m grateful for posts like this that help me realize all my feelings about it are totally valid! <3
I feel like it’s one of the toughest decisions women make, and there’s no right answer! It’s just different for every person. Best of luck with this baby and making this hard choice- I’m sure you’ll make the best one for you!