There were only three times I totally stopped working in the previous year: when the doctor advised that I should be on bed rest after my first ultrasound, the week I contracted Covid-19 on my sixth month of pregnancy, and the one and a half months following my c-section delivery. I would have wanted a longer maternity leave, but I humbly understood how important my contribution is to the household’s monthly income, so I had to push myself to continue working while I was simultaneously learning about motherhood.
The first few weeks postpartum were definitely the most challenging. As I fight the aches and pains of my body and the effects of sleepless nights, I was attending to work I used to know. When before I could finish tasks whenever and however I want, I would now be sweetly interrupted from time to time by the demands of motherhood, such as breastfeeding.
I have to admit though that juggling motherhood and career in my situation is a privilege, as I get to personally take care of my daughter while I attend to my multiple remote works. Not all mothers have this privilege, since many have to physically step out of their homes to fulfill their duties career-wise. Nonetheless, I do not take working from home lightly, as many mothers would also attest to how boundary lines are thin when working from home.
I am now in my fifth month of juggling motherhood and career. Some days are a breeze, some are not. Here are my key takeaways from those five months, and I hope somewhere along these lines, you’ll find the strength you need to power through today, working Momma!
As a first-time mom, one of my biggest discoveries is that moms feel guilty most of the time, if not all the time. For example, when I work, I feel guilty that I don’t spend as much time with my daughter. When I spend extra time with my daughter, I feel guilty that I don’t finish tasks as fast as I can. Then again, I understand that both are essential and that Mom Guilt will always be there. When I don’t exert effort to win over the Mom Guilt at a certain time of the day, it overwhelms me. It’s either I don’t finish tasks at all, or I do finish them half-baked. I gradually learned to try to focus my mind on the task, which brings me to my next point.
I had to remind myself over and over that my season now is a lot different from before. I am now a career woman and a mother at the same time. No matter what I do, I cannot take away from the equation that I have a baby who largely depends on me. When I started to work again after I gave birth, I’d wish for at least one hour to myself so I can finish what I need to. It took me time to accept that it’s not always going to happen, so I maximize the 15-to-30 minutes I am given, also known as when my baby is asleep, or when she’s with my mom or husband and she’s not hungry yet. I applied strategies that would work for my current situation, such as finishing work in the wee hours, or using a digital timer and alarm. Also, I list down at least two main goals for the day instead of a long list of to dos, so they are more bite-sized and achievable.
Inevitably, there are times when it’s just me and my baby at home. At the onset, my head would explode with worry and fatigue even before the fatigue even happens. There are dishes, there’s the floor, and there’s the laundry, on top of my baby crying, demanding my attention. Looking back at those days, I don’t know how I ever managed with incomplete sleep! I thought I should finish attending to all those chores in a day along with finishing my work because I’m a mom. Then, I realized that I am the source of all my stress! So I learned to choose my battles. I learned to leave the other tasks for later and put my baby’s welfare as the top priority. If not doing the dishes won’t hurt her, then I won’t do it in the meantime. I can’t do everything at once, so it’s true what they say: “The dishes can wait.”
I work two part-time jobs and multiple freelance jobs. I love all the things I’m doing, but there were a lot of times when I feel like my current setup doesn’t work for me anymore. One time, I chose to let go of one of my jobs, only to hear that there were many moms before me who did more than what I am currently doing. So, sadly, I tried to fit myself into their mold and continued even if things didn’t feel right for me.
It takes courage to say no to voices who drown what I truly feel regarding my work. People will have opinions on how they were able to do things when they were exactly in my situation. However, that’s the point: they aren’t exactly in my situation. What worked for them might not work for me, so I must make a choice for myself and my baby. At the end of the day, I ask myself if I’m becoming the person my daughter would be proud of. If not, I choose the road that others would frown upon but would make things feel right for our family.
Yes, it’s exhausting, but whether we like it or not, sometimes motherhood is a thankless job because people think “we’re supposed to do it.” Fill your tank with self-love, self-care, and self-affirmation. You’re not nothing. You’re doing the best you can every day. While it’s true that you will sometimes feel like you’ve failed for the day, know that it’s all okay, and tomorrow is another day to be better! The gratitude must come from you, Momma! Appreciate yourself, appreciate your work, appreciate your moments of rest and relaxation, and appreciate the life you’re given! On days I feel tired and unmotivated, I go back to two of my childhood dreams: to see my name in by-lines, and to raise a family of my own. Now that I am living both dreams, am I one to waste them? To juggle motherhood and career is underrated. Despite the challenges, I thank God for these answered prayers, so I roll up my sleeve and be the best mother and career woman I can be every day.