I Don’t Feel Guilty About Going Back to Work

There is almost nothing more beautiful than my baby when she’s sleeping. She raises her hands above her head like she’s celebrating a Patriots touchdown and gets a dreamy look on her tiny, gorgeous face. When she’s awake, she gives me an amazing smile if I beep her nose or stroke her chin.

This time tomorrow, I won’t be sitting midday and nursing her as long as she wants. I won’t be rubbing her little tummy. I’ll be back at work–voluntarily.

I’m the sort of woman who leans in. During my eight-week maternity leave, I dropped in to work with the baby four or five times for one reason or another. On Monday, a co-worker said to me about my impending return to work, “Isn’t it so hard for you to leave her? It was always so hard for me to leave my kids.”

The answer to her question is no, and I won’t feel guilty about it.

When my first daughter was born, I arranged for a six-week maternity leave. People kept telling me I would want to stay out longer. It was a snowy winter, and after five and a half weeks, I found myself thinking, “Get me out of here!” When I returned to work, it was a relief.

My husband stayed home with our eldest daughter for the next six weeks of her life. He would bring her to me at work once a day so she could nurse. I would pump two to three times a day, a break that I came to appreciate since it enabled me to both work and have an exclusively breast-fed child.

Then we sent our daughter to a wonderful daycare provider, who cared for our child as if she were her own. I grew and advanced in work and my daughter grew and advanced at daycare. She learned to crawl, talk, and walk mostly under someone else’s tutelage, a choice I don’t regret for a minute.

My husband has a special talent for sitting happily with a baby on his lap. It’s not easy being at home with a kid, but he’s great at it. We’ve talked about how if we ever had a kid in Canada, where I’m from, he’d take the bulk of the six to 12 months of parental leave that are common there because he’d be a better stay-at-home dad than I’d be a stay-at-home mom.

I’m a professional who is proud of what she does. I’d rather leave my daughter with a daycare provider who is a professional so we can both do what we do best–I’ll teach, she’ll watch my daughter, and EVERYONE will be happier.

I’m lucky to be able to return to work exactly when I want. I am profoundly grateful to have access to child care for a 3-month-old baby and a supportive workplace. I made a decision to take care of my own needs, knowing that my children will thrive when their mother is thriving, and I will thrive as a working mom.

It’s never easy, but it’s always worth it.

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Aliza LibmanAliza Libman is a transplanted Torontonian in Brookline, Massachusetts, where she lives with her husband and daughters. Aliza teaches math and Tanach to middle-school students. In her spare time, she enjoys feeling guilty about not writing as often as she used to.

The opinions expressed here are the personal views of the author. Comments are moderated, so use your inside voices, keep your hands to yourself, and no, we're not interested in herbal supplements.

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