When it’s time to return to work – this will vary with employers – you may realize that you have not given yourself enough time to readjust after pregnancy. It is always a good idea to consult your doctor, as there are health factors to consider about which she can advise you. Some mothers find that they cannot bring themselves to leave the baby, while others – even though they adore the baby – are climbing the walls and have to “escape.”
If you have decided to return to work, be assured that as long as you arrange good child care, you will not be neglecting your child. There is no danger of your young baby forgetting who you are or transferring his affection to his daytime caregiver. The really important thing is that when you get home you spend quality time with your child.
I know from my own experience as a working mother that guilt pangs are inevitable. I felt certain, however, that my baby would instinctively know I was his mother. I was reassured when I later came across research showing that very young babies are quite able to single out their parents (whether biological or adoptive) due to the loving, interested attention that only parents can give. Similarly, it has been shown that premature babies can distinguish between the touch of their parents’ hands through an incubator and the more matter-of-fact handling of nursing staff.
The important point is the quality of the time you spend that counts more than the quantity. Love isn’t measured in time: love is what you put into time, no matter how short.
CHILD AND CAREER: The job you face at home is twice as demanding as the one you face at work, and your terms of employment are worse. After all, you are expected to work seven days a week, 365 days a year. You will be frowned upon if you don’t cook, clean, iron, entertain, and provide advice, nursing care, and sympathy continuously for at least 18 years, if not indefinitely. Your efforts will go largely unnoticed by society and, of course, you won’t get paid a penny. In fact, you will have to pay for the privilege of being a parent – but as most parents will tell you, despite the job description, it’s a privilege worth paying for!
Your child’s first step, first smile, and first word are all priceless personal achievements. Helping to mold a tiny baby into a thoughtful, well-adjusted adult is a task requiring sacrifice, responsibility, and, above all, love. It also yields huge emotional dividends. To my mind this makes parenting one of most important and rewarding jobs in the world. If we are able to provide better parenting for our children today, there will be far fewer problems for the adults for tomorrow.
Given this, it is disturbing to see the low status attached to parenting, particularly for woman, who shoulder much of the burden. Being a good parent involves helping your child’s personality to develop in a positive sense and being a good role model. If you want your children to grow up and work hard, the fact that you work hard at your own job sets them an excellent example. Having to combine the role of principal parent with full-time career is not easy, but women are doing it with imagination and sheer hard work. The rise of the mythical “super mom” has meant that we are often expected to do it all without any help. There are a lot of “super moms” around: they are the ones who manage everything day after day, at home and in the office, without failing to give love and energy to their children.