It's okay to miss work, and it's okay to miss your baby.
It's been five months since Amy Schumer gave birth, and while she got back on the stage to perform stand-up at just two weeks postpartum, she's recently resumed a more demanding work schedule. In an Instagram post she opened up about how hard it has been to leave her baby boy.
"I'm feeling strong and good and like I'm still a human being with interests and ambitions and goals I'm excited to reach," she captioned a beautiful photo in which she's cuddling her son, Gene.
Schumer continued: "It's felt good to be back at work. I was so worried about it and was afraid to go back after he was 3 months old. A couple days I've cried from missing him. But it's mostly good to be back and the breaks energize me to be a better mom and appreciate our time even more. I have it a lot easier than many people but I wanted to share my experience."
For many moms who don't have access to paid leave going back to work quickly isn't a choice, it's an economic necessity. For these moms, returning to work quickly is a sacrifice and an act of love.
As Schumer pointed out, she has privilege that these mothers don't. But a pay check isn't the only reason moms return to work. Some moms (like Schumer) choose to go back to work because they're building families and their careers, too.
Business owners, college students, contractors, entrepreneurs, freelancers and moms who make their living in the gig economy may not want to take a long break for fear of losing the momentum they've been working so hard to build.
And for some moms, work is something that makes them feel whole, and they should not have to stop doing what they love because they've had a baby. Loving your job doesn't mean you don't love your baby, too. Mothers are complex humans, and we can love more than one thing at once.
For some moms, working motherhood means counting down the minutes until they can clock out and see their baby, but for others work is something they are passionate about and something that makes them feel like a better mom.
There is no one-size-fits-all way to balance motherhood and career, and we need to stop acting like there is. Yes, America needs paid leave, but even in countries where women can take long maternity leaves, there are always women who chose not to.
Schumer has the kind of privilege that would likely allow her to take a longer leave. She just doesn't want to. She loves what she does and loves her baby boy, too.
After her first post-baby show in May, some internet commenters shamed her for doing her thing, but she took to Instagram to remind the world that this is her motherhood, done her way.
"Sending out love to the moms shaming me for doing standup last night," she captioned a pic of herself pumping breastmilk.
Balancing work and raising a baby is so hard. It's okay to cry. It's okay to miss your baby. It's okay to miss work.
It's time to stop insisting that what works for one mom works for all and instead urge society to support women to choose what works best for them.
[A version of this post was first published May 23, 2019. It has been updated.]