JT is already three weeks old, and after a full week back at work, I’m still adjusting to the unpredictable schedule of a newborn. I work whenever he naps (unless I’m showering or eating). I work whenever he’s entertaining himself in his vibrating chair (and isn’t demanding that I tug on the handle that starts the music every ten seconds). I work whenever Andrew is rocking John or trying to calm him when he gets fussy. Fortunately, JT is still at that stage where he spends most of his day sleeping (and most of the night awake), which means that I can generally complete all my work tasks for the day. Since I started working again, I’ve gotten into the habit of identifying a reasonable number of tasks that I would like to accomplish before the end of the day. Usually, I’m successful, though from time to time, the tasks take longer to complete than anticipated- most likely because in my sleep-deprived state, I’ve developed the bad habit of starting a bunch of tasks without finishing them. When you only have ten minutes before your next nursing session, it makes a lot more sense to try to send one email than to work on a lesson plan or a blog post. Of course, then JT begins crying five minutes into my email, and suddenly I have an incomplete blog post or lesson plan and an unfinished email.
Working from home definitely has its challenges. As much as I’m looking forward to an entire month at home with my baby boy, I’ll also be happy to return to my office a two days a week for a few uninterrupted hours of work. But the next four weeks don’t have to pass too quickly. Despite the difficulties that come with working at home while also taking care of an infant, I wouldn’t trade this opportunity for anything in the world. I love being able to spend the entire day with my baby boy, watching as he sleeps soundly in his vibrating chair, as he stares wide-eyed at the stuffed monkey that rattles when you shake him, as he grabs my husband’s finger while he holds him. I can’t even imagine what it’ll feel like when I have to leave him to go back to my office for the first time next month.
So why have I chosen to be a working mother? To be completely honest, it’s partially because I have to. There was really never any question that I would return to work after JT was born. We need my income. Andrew is working on his Ph.D. Though he works part-time and does receive a stipend for teaching, we still need my full-time salary to afford our apartment, cars, food, and everything else we need to live. Most likely, this arrangement will be needed until Andrew graduates and finds a job teaching at a college. But if I’m going to be completely honest? I’ll most likely continue working even when I don’t have to.
Why would I choose to work when I don’t need to? Easy- because I want to, and I can. I love what I do. I love going to work and teaching my students. I love working with my Youth Group teens. I love planning and implementing prayer services, service activities, and small/large group activities. Even if we didn’t need the money, if I didn’t have any reason to work, I would still choose to show up for CCD, Confirmation classes, and Youth Group nights. I am blessed to have a passion for what I do. Not everyone who works is as lucky. I actually enjoy my job, and as an added bonus, it’s incredibly conducive to having children. Because neither Andrew nor I work a regular 9-5 job, there will almost always be someone who can be at home with John. Even when we do have a conflict, I have permission to bring JT with me to events, as well as plenty of trustworthy teens and parents who would be more than happy to babysit for an hour or two while I teach. I am incredibly blessed to work in a place that celebrates the family, that is a family. I am not simply the Youth Minister and Director of Religious Education. I am not merely an employee of the parish. I am part of the St. Ignatius family, and my parish family has embraced my husband, son, and me with open arms. And that’s why I’m happy to be a working mom.
Mary Help of Christians, pray for us!