One of the essential chapters in the guilt book that so many new working mamas carry around with them seems to be the one entitled “I’m sad and guilty that because I’m working, I’m going to miss my baby’s milestones.” You know, those first claps, rolls over, crawls, steps…
I certainly had this thought before I had my first child, and I’ve seen it come up time and time again with the amazing and strong mamas who have taken my e-course.
The feeling didn’t surprise me, given that I had experienced it myself…but the sheer volume of women who have said this to me over the past few months really startled me. And I think I was startled, because after giving birth to my first baby, this fear was absolutely a nonissue. One that I hadn’t given another thought to for years.
Why, I wondered, hadn’t this turned out to be a problem? Was it that I was too overwhelmed to notice that I’d missed these things? Nope. Or that I simply didn’t care? Wrong again. It was that the pure joy I felt at seeing my son clap or pull himself up or walk for the first time instantly erased any idea that he may have done it before. Oh, and the fact that my daycare simply didn’t tell me when a milestone had occurred didn’t hurt either.
My advice to new mamas who are going back to work after maternity leave is this:
- If you’re worried about missing milestones, ask your childcare provider not to tell you that they happened.
- Remind yourself that this really isn’t about whether you work outside the home or not. Simply put, it is impossible (not to mention probably unhealthy and undesirable) to spend every single hour of every single day staring at your child. Your baby WILL do new things when he is in the other room with your partner. Or alone in her crib at night (if a tree falls in a forest and no one is there to hear it, does it make a sound?). Perhaps while you are out on a run…or when your back is turned. This much is inevitable.
- Repeat after me this great mantra one of my colleagues shared with me: “it doesn’t exist until you’ve seen it!” And keep repeating it.
- When you do see that milestone, celebrate! Jump up and down. Grab your camera and take pictures. Videos. Send them to your friends. Call your family. And be present – truly and completely present – to that amazing moment you have just shared with your little one. I promise you this WILL be the first time your baby gets to witness YOUR joy and pride reflected back to him.
I remember going into daycare one day sooo excited to tell everyone that my son had started clapping the night before. I got a knowing smile from one of his daycare teachers that she had seen it before, but I didn’t care. My baby was CLAPPING. And how cool was that?!
Want to add a confidence-boost to your return to work after maternity leave? Check out the Mindful Return E-Course. New sessions start soon.