By Pam Hulten
I made a comment to my husband that once I start back to work after maternity leave that I am not sure how all of the daily chores I do every day are going to get finished in a timely fashion. Between loads of laundry, bottle washing, weekly meeting preparations for Rotary, a bit of United Way work and getting ready for the rest of the family to get home for dinner, I don’t always feel accomplished — rather just keeping up with the normal. Some might call it a bit scattered and flying by the seat of your pants. With all of this going on, I am really starting to panic about how all of this is going to get done.
I must say that the second time around being on maternity leave has been the most enjoyable experience thus far. With your first child, you spend most of your day worrying about whether you are doing things right and stressing over all the new challenges that a baby brings. This time I have been more flexible in getting a lot of other projects done, like cleaning out closets, helping with basement finishing tasks, having lunch dates with friends, and, most importantly, watching our beautiful daughter grow and develop right before our eyes. I don’t recall noticing a lot of this with our son the first time around. (He also presented us with many other medical challenges at 8-weeks-old that most parents don’t have to tackle, like having his first surgery and coming home with new medical-care needs that would scare anyone.)
Some might stereotype new mothers/stay-at-home mothers as the bon-bon eating, TV-surfing of horrible reality shows like ‘Real Housewives of…”, or even calling us out on not showering before noon. But I will be the first — and certainly not last — person to say that you won’t see that in our house! I may never be June Cleaver, but I will continue to strive toward the best for our family, even while holding down a job outside of the home.
A huge part of me is really going to miss the delight of seeing my daughter’s beautiful smiling face every time she wakes up from her naps during the day. She is just starting to acknowledge her surroundings with a wonderful smile that lets me know she is comforted by her mother’s presence. Whether you are a new mom or a mom of many, you will also relate when I say I am going to miss her smell, her noises and even her cries throughout the day. Sometimes I feel as if I am the only one who can help her through small bellyaches and any baby discomforts.
However, I know that as young as she is, she just needs some tender loving care, which she will receive while in daycare. It just warms my heart knowing the motherly bond will never be broken, and she will greet me with that wonderful smile when she hears my voice and the end of each workday!
The best part of every workday is the anticipation of my 4-year-old walking through the door, waiting to tell me all about his day at school. And soon I will also be ready to squeeze our daughter and give her a million kisses when she comes through that door as well.
I certainly will be seeking new ways to manage my time, and, believe it or not, I have actually started saying “no” to a few extracurricular activities. Who imagined that having your second baby while becoming the next Urbana Rotary President would drive most people beyond insanity? Multitasking is definitely one of my strengths, and I hope that I can continue to be that role model of a “Super Mom/Wife” for my family.
How do you manage life as a working mom? If you have more than one, did you find your maternity leave/return different?
Pam Hulten is the director of Resource Development at United Way of Champaign County and president of Urbana Rotary Club. She is a full-time working mother with two small children, and is married to the most amazing husband, Gordy Hulten.