Leaning In For Sanity

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I’ve come to believe that nothing truly prepares you for motherhood. When I was pregnant, people would ask, “So are you ready?” After hearing this over and over, my standard response became, “Well, we have everything we need, if that makes us ready!”

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The truth is, I wasn’t sure. Of course I was prepared to physically take care of and house the baby. We had everything that we needed, and then some. We had the books, the support from our families, a fantastic doctor and a beautiful nursery. Despite all of that, in the back of my mind was a tiny voice that questioned if we were, in fact, ready to be parents.

I have to admit, my husband and I surprised ourselves. We had a high-needs baby, and took on every challenge head on. We managed to get through the excruciating first few months with flying colors, and now proudly have a happy, easy-going daughter. I wasn’t expecting it to be so hard in the beginning, but we did whatever it took, and whatever that was, seemed to work.

What I wasn’t ready for was how I would feel once things settled down.

When I found out I was pregnant, it was pretty much decided that I wouldn’t be returning to work. As a teacher, it financially made sense for me to stay home, rather than pay for decent childcare. The last day of school, I cried a lot more than I had expected. I said goodbye to the place that I had called home for six years. The place that helped me establish who I am as an adult. The place that took a chance of a first time teacher, fresh out of college. In my time there, I created fond friendships with people who would’ve never crossed my path under different circumstances, and I became more confident in myself both personally and professionally. I was leaving a work family to start my own family. I was both excited and nervous.

I was going to be a stay-at-home mom. Although I was sad to leave work, I was starting a new chapter in my life. I was looking forward to play dates, mommy and me classes, and the flexibility (should I emphasize the “first time mom” thing here?) that came with being a stay-at-home mom.

What I didn’t expect was to miss that old chapter as much as I do. Don’t get me wrong; I love being with my baby. I love taking her to music class, playing at the park on a nice day, and I love watching her learn to interact with her “friends” at our play dates. I know that my job as a mother is by far the most important work I will do in my lifetime.

But at the end of the day, I don’t feel fulfilled. I don’t feel fulfilled, and that makes me feel guilty as a parent. It’s a vicious cycle. There are millions of women out there who would love to stay at home with their children, and I am choosing to return to work. But I can’t change how I am programmed. I feel as though there is a piece of my life that is missing. I feel as though I have started to lose myself. I feel as though I’m slipping so far from who I was, that I might not be able to get back.

And, in short, I feel as though I’m slowly losing my sanity.

That’s why I am choosing to go back to work, or to “lean in,” as Sheryl Sandberg says.

I am leaning in for my sanity.

I am leaning in to find myself again.

I am leaning in because in order to be the best mom to my baby girl I can be, I need to be happy, content, and feel fulfilled in my life.

Jill Patir is currently a stay-at-home mom to her seven-month-old daughter, Talya. Her musings can be found at http://firsttimemomsmanifesto.com

photo credit: © Mitarart – Fotolia.com

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3 COMMENTS

  1. I completely agree that the happiest, most well-adjusted children have happy and fulfilled parents. Going back to work will be great for you, but your daughter will benefit as well!

  2. Thank you for sharing. I have a 17 month old baby girl who has been in daycare for just under a month. I’m learning to flourish as woman again and I know she will be blessed because of it.