When I first had my daughter, I felt a lot of guilt. First, I felt guilty because I was leaving my co-workers hanging to leave for maternity leave – after all, I chose to have a baby. This was not some unforeseen illness. Then, I felt guilty because I had to leave and go to work. Damned if I do, damned if I don’t.
My first performance review after I had Baby Girl really did a lot to assuage the guilt about the former. I was still doing everything that was expected of me – and more – to get tenure, the library statistics had not dropped with me gone, and I managed to get all of the instruction sessions that were requested of me done – even if they were not during the most optimal times.
But no one really reviews you as a parent, do they? I struggled with this a lot. Maybe it was a bit more than normal, because I had a lot of other issues to deal with from Baby Girl’s unnecessarily complicated birth, but I think every CareerMom struggles with this. Maybe even some SAHMs, if they’ve got other kids to care for. Society says that the baby should be your constant focus 24/7, and that’s not realistic. It is okay if you have to leave your child to go to work – you are caring for them by earning a living that will put a roof over their heads and food in their bellies. And hopefully, you have someone you trust that will make them their constant focus in your absence, whether it’s a spouse, relative, or a daycare.
It’s gotten easier as Baby Girl gets older. She knows now that mommy comes back, and she gets delighted when I do – especially when I can sneak away a little bit early!