After Syona was diagnosed with cerebral palsy, I made the tough decision to not return to work following my maternity leave. I knew that with our appointment and therapy schedule I needed to resign from my job so I could focus on what was happening at home. My former employer was extremely understanding and supportive. And although I knew I was making the right choice, it wasn’t an easy one.
I really enjoyed my work in strategic and corporate communications. And I was good at my job. I worked with great people who were really smart. I looked forward to going into work every day.
Focusing my energy on dirty diapers, at-home therapy routines and chauffeuring Syona from appointment to appointment allowed all of our family to adjust to our new life — a life that was filled with questions we didn’t know how to answer and challenges we never expected. Staying at home felt right. In fact, it felt more right than anything I had ever really felt before. The thought of leaving Syona in anyone else’s care felt wrong. I didn’t want to look back on Syona’s early years and wonder if I had done enough to help her. And I knew I was so lucky to even be able to make this choice. I fully expected to be a full-time stay-at-home mom until Syona was in kindergarten. But, as with everything else, life had another plan for me.
A few months after my decision, I had the incredible opportunity to start writing this blog. I remember agonizing over my first post for days, struggling with how I wanted to share our story. A few months after I started writing for Today’s Parent, I began some communications consulting work for an organization that provided speech therapy and support services for children with hearing and vision issues. It was an incredible group of people that spent their days helping kids like Syona. The cause was close to my heart, the deadlines were flexible, I could work from home and I got to use my professional experience. This project opened up a whole set of doors, and I got to meet some key people that help make a difference in the world of children with special needs (and the families who love them).
A few months ago, I realized that Syona was really doing well. I thought maybe it was time for her and I to have a bit of independence from one another. Maybe it was time (gulp!) for me to go back to work, officially. So, I put together my resume, started networking, made some contacts, had a bunch of great interviews and then got my dream offer: The opportunity to establish the in-house communications function for an organization that is focused on providing children with multiple special needs with rehabilitation, medical help and support services.
Professionally, this was the right fit — a chance to use my skills, be part of a team that was smart and driven and enjoy a rare opportunity to establish an in-house function that follows the best practice (OK, maybe it’s not a dream for all of you, but definitely a dream for a nerd like me). On a personal level, this was quite obviously a natural fit. For the first time, the thought of leaving Syona with someone else actually felt OK.
So I’ve been going to work for the past three weeks and it has been great. I do miss my days with Syona, and I don’t always get to spend as much time with her as I want. But the moments we do have together are so awesome. My incredible in-laws have taken over childcare and appointment duties so seamlessly that, when I am at work, I am able to focus on work. And Syona is really enjoying her time with them. And I truly enjoy my days at work. I have the continued luck of working with people that are smart, dedicated and good at what they do. I feel a sense of contentment and purpose.
Using my brain (and getting to enjoy a cup of tea while it’s still hot) feels incredible.
Yes, mommy guilt sets in once in a while (doesn’t it always?), but that exquisite moment that I walk in the door, kick off my shoes and get a huge smile, kiss and hug from my girl is my absolute favourite moment of the day.
Syona has brought such a clarity of purpose to my life. And between that, her determination and her unconditional love, I couldn’t imagine life being any better.
Did you go back to work after you had kids? How did you feel about your decision?