Mother to Mother: Returning to Work After Maternity Leave

Mother to Mother: Returning to Work After Maternity Leave

As I sip my in-flight margarita en route to Minneapolis for business, I think about my family I left behind for two days on my husband’s 38th birthday. But only for a second, because… alone time. Pretty ruthless, right? Let me tell you, I have accomplished a lot in life and enjoyed it. I’ve also struggled. I’ve birthed two babies. I’ve lost my mother. All of that has been joyous, challenging and painful, but nothing trumps (excuse the now tainted use of that word but it just fits) returning to work after nearly two years of hormonal outrages and sleepless nights. Nothing. So I’mma enjoy this 3.5-hour Sunday flight regardless of that.

So, let’s talk about returning to full-time work as a mother of two. My first born had the pleasure of my company for 15 months before I “chose” a career over my child – I’ll get back to that. I was fortunate enough to be at his beck and call for that long, and longer had I wished, but I was aching to challenge myself intellectually again. To surround myself with creative minds. And sure, to earn my keep. When my second joined us, I got the itch a bit sooner and we indulged in a nanny at nine months. Oh, how many conversations arguments we had about juggling preschool, a nanny, a new job and maintaining extracurriculars. The choice was easy because everyone in my family deserves me to be my best self and that lady is one who needs to flex all of those other muscles – not just the maternal ones. Which brings me back to “choosing” a career over my child. I can never speak to anyone’s financial situation or reasons for their choice, though I can tell you that I have never chosen anything over my children. I choose for my children. The problem stems from the stigma projected onto a working mother by corporate jamokes, baby boomers, and even by other mothers. Let’s break it!

In trying to break it, I’ve learned to navigate both worlds with authenticity. Ain’t nobody got time for being fake at this stage in life. I’m not solely talking about personality, but also setting expectations. Sometimes it bites me in the ass and I’m trying to work on that.

Enter: Civilian.

When I was on the hunt for a new gig, I focused on one with a familial culture, flexible hours, and different goals than those of agencies past. This haven proved itself in mere weeks. I mean, sending a pumping schedule to my new team, the whirring of the cow machine, and hearing numerous jokes about my milk in the fridge made for some unconventional water cooler chats. It wasn’t all sunshine and milk thistles. Those first few months were hell. After seven months back at it, I’m still a hot mess express. Ask my boss. Not fired though, right? Nah. Find those colleagues who will lift you up, inspire you to grow, and of course, take you out for one too many nights at The Lamplighter for stress-relieving karaoke.

My last nugget of unsolicited advice is to welcome help. How many times have new parents received meal and babysitting offers from friends, yet nobody wants to burden them, so they politely decline? Second kid surely opened the floodgates for that one. Even those who don’t want children tend to flip out over a new baby and how they can lend a Samaritan hand – let it happen.

Happy Mother’s Day to those at home, those working, and those doing both. We are women and we are superheroes however we choose to hustle.

Signed with love,

Chelsea Daus
Human, Wife, Mother, Account Executive