Around my third or fourth week back at work after maternity leave, I picked up the phone and called a friend who was a veteran working mom. I asked her this question after a particularly emotional day missing my baby:
“Is it always going to feel this way?”
I called her because I knew she would give it to me straight but also reassure me that everything is going to be ok. I figured she had been through this and she was ok, so I’ll just listen to her and then I’ll be ok. She said, “Girl, it’s always going to feel like this, you just grow into ways of dealing with it and being ok with it.”
At first hearing that felt as harsh as the Brillo pad needed to clean dried baby food out of a high chair. But as I let it sink in, I realized what she was really saying was that IT’S OK to feel guilty, sad, or any emotion when you are a working mom. Those emotions mean you are a caring mom. If you didn’t feel them, something would be off.
It’s more about HOW you deal with the emotions. Are you going get down every time the emotions come up? Are you going to beat yourself up for working?
One of the best ways help work through the emotions is to assemble what I call your “Thrive Tribe.” You can call or connect with this support network of women when you are moving through your emotions, need advice or just need to bond.
Here is how I recommend putting your own Thrive Tribe together — seek out the following women:
Experienced mom friend (not family).
The reason I say not a family member is often our moms or sisters are so close that they feel free to say whatever THEY think is right for YOU. When what you need is an objective point of view.
A mom at your work.
This mom knows the ins and outs of where to pump and how bosses deal with flexible schedules, pump room locations, how to talk to HR, etc.
A family member or friend who is a mom.
This is the woman you will turn to when you need a good listen or a good cry.
Facebook private/secret groups.
Find a private group of local moms who you can ask baby questions. Make sure it’s not visible to the public. You don’t want everyone to see you posting picture of your baby’s funky diaper rash.
Women in your community like your church, child care or friends.
These women will help you stay connected to a supportive network, feel spiritually fulfilled, and simply share much needed parenting tips.