After I returned to work from maternity leave, the plan was to work full time until further notice. As the weeks went on, the stress of balancing work and home life became almost unbearable. My son was in daycare and got sick quite a bit. Since I didn’t have very much vacation, it was my husband that stayed home with our son when he was sick. This ABSOLUTELY killed me inside. I felt like a horrible mother and guilty going to work knowing I had a sick little boy at home. I swear it seemed like every other week my son was sent home from daycare…hand, foot, and mouth; flu-like symptoms; rashes; pink eye; you name it. He was getting hit with every illness possible. As I mother, I didn’t want it to be perceived that I was choosing work over my child.
It was really difficult to concentrate at work when I knew my son was at home not feeling well. I remember one instance my boss asked me a work-related question and I just lost it and started crying. I couldn’t hold back that I was upset and wishing I was at home with my son instead of at work. After about five months of spending over an hour a day commuting to work, feeling overwhelmed, stressed out, and not sleeping well I finally told my husband I couldn’t take it anymore and something had to change! We talked about switching my son to a different daycare that would allow him to attend four days a week and that way I could stay home with him on Fridays. We discussed the financial aspect of it and figured out if we could make this work. I was willing to sell my car, get rid of cable, cancel my gym membership, or even move into an apartment. I was prepared to do anything I had to for some flexibility and less stress. After some discussion and getting the okay from my boss, I would work Monday-Thursday and have Fridays off. At the end of that year we found a daycare that we absolutely loved, but there was potentially a waiting list until June. I think the director saw my desperation and the pain in my eyes. She told me she would find a way for my son to attend (which she did).
I can’t tell you the weight I felt lifted off my shoulders knowing that I would have four more whole days a month with my son. I would have one-on-one time with him at least one day a week no matter what! I would have a little more time each week to manage all the other responsibilities I had on my plate. I never thought I would have to choose between work and home life. I assumed I could do it all. I’m not sorry I chose less money for more time with my child. I won’t get ever get these moments back and I didn’t want to regret missing this critical time with him. I have my whole life to work. Right now I am focused on being the best mom I can to my little guy, but also contributing to the family financially. This wasn’t an easy decision, but I’ve never thought twice about it. I needed to take a step back for my own sanity, my own mental health, and for the good of my family. I couldn’t be a good mom when I was always stressed out and feeling overwhelmed.