First week of work – complete! Totally exhausted and guilt free!

It’s Saturday! Hallelujah!

Last Monday, I returned to work after my four-week July vacation. It was brutal re-entry, but I survived my first week and it was totally guilt free! Monday morning was a “Let’s get Kanesha up and ready” team effort.

Hubby helped me get out of bed so I could go on my morning walk. My daughter and hubby made sweet “back to work” cards for me. Hubby made breakfast for all of us, and a healthy lunch for me. My mother-in-law made some high-octane coffee for my travel mug (no Folgers), and my son did not protest when I left for work. Everything was moving along well.

There is nothing wrong with my job and I enjoy most of it quite a bit. I even have a “newer” job this year and a very long new title. The challenge with me going back to work is that it completely changes, topples, dismantles, upsets, drives (I could keep going)…the flow and balance of  our household.

Our world becomes more structured. More lists and checklists are constructed. Details of schedules and stuff to do have to be minded. The family calendar must be updated and maintained.

I had to laugh at the family calendar last Sunday. I went to look at it and noticed it was STILL on June and had not been updated. I could barely see the calendar on the bulletin board. Why?

Because it was summer.


All of this “back to work” prep could drive any working mother into a tailspin of feeling massive guilt. I refuse to fall back into that line of thinking, especially since I have a well-functioning and supportive multigenerational household.

A few weeks ago, I was reading an issue of Working Mother (at the pool). The article that jumped out at me was Anatomy of Guilt by Ilisa Cohen. The article dissects the various factors and influences that lead working women (not men) to feel guilty about balancing their families, careers and time for themselves.

I used to feel this guilt all the time and it was not good. As the article states, guilt can make you ill. Guilt can tamper with your ability to sleep well. Your weight may fluctuate because the guilt may cause you to over or under-eat. You may become tense which can lead to digestive problems (especially if you are feeling too guilty to make time to get to the gym). It’s hard to focus on things when you are feeling guilty. This is magnified if you are feeling guilty about being a good mother.

I did experience many of these guilt ailments before my mother-in-law moved in with us. I struggled with figuring out how to be super at all the things I was trying to do. I asked my hubby once, before our second child was born, “Do you ever feel guilty about going to work and being away from home?” He looked at me like I asked him if I could take Hugh Jackman as my lover. Ok, I’m exaggerating a bit, but hubby did give me a strange look.

His response, “Why would I feel guilty about going to work? People have to work. That’s just how it is. I’m being productive. Why would I feel guilty?” Hmmm…oh, ok!

Since my mother-in-law has been living with us, I feel like I have a great team for managing a busy, productive, healthy and fun lifestyle. The kids are not over-scheduled. We have dinner together almost every night. If I need to work late, I know the kids are at home with my mother-in-law (and sometimes hubby) having fun and getting their needs met. I do not have to bend my schedule to attend all the during the day school events because my husband, mother-in-law and I rotate our attendance, and we often videotape the events so we’re not missing out.

My son climbed into my lap, last Sunday, and told me he would miss me “gynormously” when I went back to work. (He learned that word watching Charlie and Lola.) That made me feel loved, but not guilty. I reminded him that my mother-in-law had a fun week planned for him and they could call, email and text me if he had something urgent to report while I was at work. He thought that was great and he said he would be waiting for me, on the porch, so he could give me an after work hug. And when I got home, there was my son and mother-in-law, rocking in the rocking chairs and happy to greet me after my first day of work.

One work week done. A bazillion more to go!

Oh, and we updated the calendar. I’m still rearranging that bulletin board…

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2 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Jess on August 7, 2010 at 6:54 pm

    Kanesha–

    Great post! I have long-felt the working parent guilt thing. Chris never has. He gives me the same look your hubby gives you when I bring it up. This year, even though Chris is a little iffy about it, I’m going part-time in an effort to bring more balance to our lives (and less $$ as Chris is quick to point out:). I know it will be a financial sacrifice, but I’m totally willing to do it because I cannot handle another phone call from the school saying someone forgot to pick him up or he doesn’t have his lunch or he’s threw up and is asking for his mom–and me having to say, “Sorry, I can’t get there (I work an hour and half away via mass transit), I’ll try to find someone else.

    Thanks for the insightful thoughts about the work-life balance.

    Jess

    Reply

    • Isn’t it so interesting how we working mothers (and mothers in general) subject ourselves to this unnecessary guilt? We all have to support each other more because this guilt is too unhealthy. I’m excited for you and so happy that you took charge of your time. Keep us posted on how it goes.
      K of IAFN

      Reply

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