Tales of a Working Mother by Colleen Fitzpatrick
I always cared about my career. I cared about it directly out of college when there were hardly any jobs to be had (2009). I cared about it when my husband and I moved across the world to London after our wedding and I had to leave a job I loved and adapt to a new life of freelancing for a British Foundation. I cared about it when we moved home and I got pregnant the first month at a new job in New York City and would have to go on maternity leave before a year of working there. And I cared about it when I fell in love with my newborn son and realized how much I needed him every single day and would have to make a drastic change to my work life. My old and normal way of thinking about a successful career always went something like this…
Find a job that can either teach you something or give you the tools to move up.
Gaps in the resume were a no, no.
Leaving a job before the one year mark didn’t look all that great.
My personal life didn’t matter all that much.
I am woman, hear me roar.
The emotional stress and guilt I felt going back to work when my son was 3 and a half months old has now been blocked from my mind. I knew it would be hard but I didn’t realize it would paralyze me at certain points of the day. Before him, I would deal with the stressors of any work-place environment like a champ. Before him, I’d arrive early, leave late and impress the boss. Before him, I didn’t get distracted. Before him, I had fewer interests and that was the ultimate shift in my thinking. When I was pregnant I found a community of mamas from all walks of life, whether they were bloggers, designers, writers, Instagram professionals, whatever, they opened my mind and unleashed my creative, nurturing, appreciative side. Being a mother is the greatest gift and greatest job on earth and I learned this prior to giving birth through the stories and journeys of like-minded people. I learned about the sisterhood that is created between mothers, and how breastfeeding (the bond and act of) is one of the most fascinating privileges on this planet. I learned that there is no one way to parent but if you find a style that suites you, it can become your main priority. I learned that everyone is just doing their best and in the eyes of a child that is the perfect way to be. Because of this and finding comfort in the unknown, I came to terms with the fact my career of in the charity sector of “doing good” might take a backseat after my baby was born.
My first two months back to work were nothing but gloomy. I missed my boy, I missed his sweet face and I missed being his main care taker. The guilt I felt, and still feel when I can’t be with him, is all consuming. Luckily, I was able to be home two days a week – working from home on my laptop while my son was strapped to my chest. I felt like a superwoman, doing it all so my baby can have the best life. When traveling so far to work became too much and my quality of life with Logan was affected, I knew I had to make a change. What I was doing just wasn’t working.
Being the daughter of an overly ambitious, powerful boss lady helped me see clearly. My mother is my greatest role model and has taught me how to “have it all” or strive to have a piece of it. She worked my entire life, still does, and climbed the ladder of success with grace while taking care of three little rascals. We may parent slightly differently but all of my best tricks derive from her. I’ve lived a fabulous life and respect the hell out of my parents for all they’ve achieved and in turn have given me. Mix that with a ton of constant love and support all along the way. I can only hope my son looks at me that way one day.
So I decided, if I was going to be working full time and be a mother and be a wife and be all those other great titles that a woman takes on, I needed my career to take me in a certain direction. I needed to find a place that was family oriented, close to home and knew who and what came first. I really needed to be my own boss in a sense. I have found just that. As a nonprofit and fundraising professional, I’m happy to go to work every day and help make this very strange world a better place. I’m happy to show my son work that matters. As Theodore Roosevelt once said:
“Far and away the best prize that life has to offer is the chance to work hard at work worth doing.”
Of course, the best prize that life has to offer is children but work worth doing is up there too 🙂 And yes, I miss my baby all of the seconds we are apart but my smother mother abilities greatly make up for it!
Disclaimer – I fully respect and support all mothers’ decisions to do what’s right for them and their families. Whether that’s working full time, working a little, from home, full time mama, etc….Motherhood is the hardest job no matter how you slice it and that’s a universal fact dammit!
I’m a mama to my sweet baby boy Logan and wifey to Chris. We live in a happy home in Long Island, New York. I’m the events director for a charity and side blogger over at I’m the Mama Bird.