I work hard, really hard, at everything I do in life.

Being an employee, wife, mom, friend, daughter, sister—all the hats I am so privileged to wear, I wear with pride. In my twenties, I was all about balancing all of them—or at least trying.

But things changed for me in a big way when I had my son. My priorities shifted. The “other stuff” fell to the second or third or fourth place on my list. Everyone in my life understood, and respected this priority shift.

But the one place I felt resistance was at work. I’m not sure why that is, but my dear coworkers, this is what I want you to know.

I’m the only one who knows how I’m feeling.

In the beginning, I was pregnant, and so tired. A tired that was debilitating. And sick. But not ready to tell you. So you looked at me with side eye when I walked out the door.

You didn’t know at the time, but I drove home with all the windows open in the middle of the winter to keep myself awake. And then collapsed on the couch. I napped for 30 minutes, just so I had enough energy to make dinner and get ready for bed.

When you see me dip into the parking lot for 30 minutes, it’s for a good reason.

No, I’m not gossiping on my phone. Or taking a nap in my car (like I did when I was pregnant #sorrynotsorry). My mom is in the parking lot, with my tiny 12-week-old newborn son. I am his primary source of food, and he needs me. And I need him.

These first few months back to work are hard, really, hard. This arrangement will allow me to replace one of my pumping sessions with a real feeding. Because—Pumping. Is. Hard. And frankly, I miss that little guy.

I leave at 5pm, not because it’s the easy thing to do, but because it’s the only way.

I was always the type that would stay until the job was done. I didn’t want to bring work home. So if that meant ordering dinner to the office, being the last one there and turning out the lights as I left alone at 10pm, then that’s what I did.

But the second I gave birth to my son, my priorities changed. Monday through Friday, I only got two short hours a night with him. And I fully planned on soaking up every second of that. Even if those few short hours were mostly filled with dinner and bath and bedtime routines. That time was still precious, no matter what we were doing. So, I will have my computer shut down at 4:59pm and will race out the door to pick him up. I don’t feel sorry about that.

I should be the one to be there when he’s sick.

I’m not going to apologize for leaving early or coming in late because I had to take my son to the doctor. Or because I want to be the one to pick him up when school calls to say he’s not feeling well.

I’m his mother, and I think that is a pretty important job, that requires me to be hands-on. He needs my snuggles, my attention, my love. That is how he will feel better faster. Don’t worry. I will take care of my work obligations. But for now, you can find me caring for my son.

I don’t want to be the only mom NOT on the field trip.

These events are few and far between—so cut me some slack. They are as much for my son as they are for me. I need him to know that I am present as a mom and want to be there with him. I need him to know that he comes first. Before any meeting, or brainstorming session, or client call. HE is my priority. And it will always be that way.

I don’t value my job any less now that I am a mom.

It’s funny, I feel like I’ve become more focused at work now that I hold the title of a “working mom.” Nothing forces production like needing to finish your work to head home to your favorite little human. I’ve become insanely productive and can multitask like a champ. I’ve learned to block meetings off for myself so that I can stay on task and accomplish everything I need to.

In fact, coworkers, now that I think about it, this mom thing has actually made me a better employee. More productive, more efficient and more task-driven. I hope you see that, too.