Tuesday, September 10, 2013

To Stay Home or Not To Stay Home...That is the Question

One thing that all mothers have to come to terms with at one time or another, is whether or not to go back to work after baby comes. It can be a heart-wrenching and scary decision, no matter what decision is made. 

If you are a mama that has decided to go back to work after baby arrives, I would like to invite you to come to our "Going Back to Work" group this Saturday morning at 9:00 a.m. You can register for it here.

If you are a mama who is breastfeeding any age child (or will be soon!), we would like you to join us for our breastfeeding support group this Thursday at 6:30 p.m. You can find out more about that and rsvp here.

Now, in the spirit of going back to work, and deciding if you want to go back or stay home, here is an excerpt from La Leche League's 'The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding'.

Take One Step at a TIME

If you are awaiting the arrival of your baby, you are probably thinking about what you should tell your employer regarding your future plans. From experience, many mothers insist: "Do not make any commitments before your baby is born." If at all possible, keep your options open.

You do not want the specter hanging over your head of having to return to a job by a certain date because of an agreement you made while still pregnant. Most businesses offer a maternity leave, and will hold your job for you for a specified period of time after the baby is born. By all means take advantage of whatever leave is available to you, and give yourself that time to assess how you will feel about leaving your baby. For someone to expect you to promise away your future and that of your baby before you even have a chance to meet is tantamount to signing a blank check - no, it is worse.

Exploring OPTIONS

In 'OF CRADLES AND CAREERS', Kaye Lowman explores many aspects that are available to women who refuse to make an "all-or-nothing choice" between their careers and their families. her book includes stories of women who have "reshaped the workplace in order to make it more responsive to their need to work and their desire to have a family." She goes on to explain:
Whether a woman's need to work is financial, social, or emotional, the desire to be a parent may be equally strong...The career woman today understands her baby's need for her and the importance of being a meaningful part of her baby's life. And she realizes how much she herself will lose if she misses out on the opportunity to mother her own children...Careers can be put on hold; babies grow up and are gone. It was a wise and thoughtful Mother Nature who brought babies into the world needing to be breastfed and cared for, reminding us that mother and baby are very much a unit for many months after birth and that they need to be together. To try to ignore or circumvent this physical and psychological need is to tamper with one of the most fundamental and basic elements of human nature.
Some women make one decision before their babies are born and find their attitudes change once they become mothers. Such was the case with Joy Cohen of New York:
I have worked with children for eleven years: as an early childhood teacher, as a teacher and therapist in a therapeutic nursery, and as a psychotherapist caring for seriously disturbed children and their families. 
When I was pregnant, I believed that I would be ready to resume my part-time psychotherapy practice after three or four months. I couldn't have known then the power and intensity of my baby's and my need for each other. I wanted to give myself totally to this new and wonderful adventure called mothering. Slowly but surely I did just that.
Those first few months passed quickly, and I began to feel pressure to resume my practice. The children and families with whom I had been working were anxious to continue. My friends and family encouraged me not to give up my career.
My own cultural stereotype of the woman who can easily manage family and career during her children's early years was being challenged. The only stimulation I felt I needed was the stimulation of my baby nursing at my breast. I wanted to savor every minute of my new life and this delicately unfolding new relationship. I felt a crisis of the heart upon me. 
Fortunately, I did not have to work for economic reasons, and my husband said that he had confidence in me and that he would be supportive of any decision that I made.
I had previously arranged to have my mother care for Michael during my sessions. When I told her that I didn't want to go back to work and felt the baby strongly needed me, she told me that I was making a big mistake. I was pained that my mother couldn't be as supportive as I would have liked, but if I have learned anything from helping people know their feelings, it was to acknowledge and trust my own.
After much soul-searching, I decided to stop working with my clients. The separations were difficult and sad for everyone. I tried hard to stay connected to my own heart and knew that what was best for me would ultimately be best for all concerned. When I knew I would not longer have to be away from Michael, I breathed a long, deep sigh of relief. The internal and external work had been difficult, but as I nestled in to nurse my baby with the knowledge that I would not have to be away from him until we were both ready, I knew that it had been necessary work from which I had grown deeply as a mother and as a person. I knew that I had made absolutely the right decision.
For some mothers, even working part-time interferes with their ability to mother their child. Elizabeth Golestaani, from Iran, is one such mother:
Until recently, I had always thought part-time work - say two hours three times a week - was the ideal for the mother of a small child. Add to this the great demand for my English-teaching skills here in Iran, and I was under a lot of pressure to return to work. So I did - and what a mistake. It took me a long time to accept the fact that I'm not Superwoman and that in my case working even part-time is too much. I kept thinking that soon i would get more organized or my toddler, Sa'id, would need me less, and then all would be well. 
The idea of "giving up my career" was so scary! I kept wrestling with my thoughts and emotions. Then I received the January-February issue of NEW BEGINNINGS. In it, I read an article by a mother who had been in exactly the same situation. She wrote about how important it is for one to acknowledge and trust one's feelings, and that helped me enormously. 
I was finally able to decide to do what I believed was right for me, which was to stop accepting teaching commitments while I have a small child. I still had to finish out the university semester, but just having made the decision changed my attitude so much.
After just two days, I realized my feelings and behavior towards Sa'id had changed. I was less irritable, more loving, and the angry scoldings were replaced by hugs and listening and eye contact. Life seemed so good again.
I hadn't realized my teaching had such a bad effect on my mothering until my decision to stop. It was hard telling everybody "no more," but I kept reminding myself "Sa'id first." For me, staying home allows me to be the kind of mother I want to be.

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