Last Friday was my first day back to work since Mackenzie was born. Or rather, it was my first day back to the clinic working as a NP. Because as many know, working as a stay-at-home-mom is no vacation, and in most ways, a lot more work than the job I get paid for! I’m not complaining though. I am thankful for the the privilege of being able to stay at home and take care of my kiddos full-time. I know this is a season that will pass all too quickly, so even though I generally spend my days devoting 99% of my minutes caring for my children and my home, I consider it a valuable use of my time and completely worth the self-sacrifice.
That being said, I still have a professional career that I love and one that requires me to keep up my skills in order to maintain my license. Taking 15 months off was not what we had planned. My plan before Mackenzie was born was to take a 12 week maternity leave and then return. But when she was also diagnosed with CF, I knew I would need more time. There was a lot to digest, a lot to heal from, and a lot more work at home with new routines to establish. Having a double dose of chronic illness to care for complicated the decision of whether or not I should work outside the home at all.
As a mom to now two children with this disease, the stressors and responsibilities I face each day often stretch me to the brim. Adding continuing education and work responsibilities into the mix was a new layer of stress that took a lot of time and preparation and wasn’t something I felt ready for until recently.
Fortunately, I have a career that gives me the option of working part-time. I am also incredibly grateful for an employer who has been so understanding and gracious allowing me to take as much time off as I needed and come back at whatever capacity I am able (which for now is quite minimal at just one or two days a month). I feel incredibly blessed to work for them and overwhelmed with gratitude to have the opportunity to be both a stay at home mom and continue my work as a PNP.
I had hoped that when I did return to work that it would feel “right”. And it definitely felt that way as I was driving to work last week. I felt excited to be back, glad to see my patients, and eager to serve the small town community where I work. Even though I knew I would miss being home with my baby, I was also looking forward to using the parts of my brain that had been hibernating since being a stay at home mom. It also felt nice to get a little break for myself and have a change of scenery.
It felt odd being back and I was a little nervous to step back into that scene after so much time away, but it actually went really well. I was afraid I wouldn’t remember how to speak Spanish or even know where to click to send an electronic prescription but as soon as I walked in, it all came back like old hat. It also didn’t take long for me to be reminded why I love what I do. I am thankful I chose this career and know without a doubt God made me to be a nurse. But he also made me to be a mom, and that role is of utmost importance and priority in my life. So in this season, since I have the option, I still believe my full-time work should be devoted to my home.
Staying home is not as glamorous as it sounds or likely appears on my Facebook page, however. It was not chosen because it is the easier of the two options for me. It is absolutely exhausting most days and filled with constant demands, fussy children, dirty diapers, endless dishes, laundry, picking up and putting away, meal planning, grocery shopping, medications, breathing treatments, entertaining, referee-ing, and driving here and there. There are more demands on my time than there are minutes in the day and I never seem to be as productive as I would like. Every day is a balancing act of keeping up on the household chores, spending time with the girls, running errands, making the meals, and getting people where they need to be. (And I know ALL moms can relate regardless of whether they stay at home or work full time!) Making a phone call, finishing an email, a text, or even a thought seems like a major accomplishment some days. I multi-task to the max yet I still find little margin to sneak in a shower or finish a meal. There is always something else that needs to be done and there is a constant pull on my time and energy. I aspired to start a blog and actually keep up with it but as you can see from the infrequency of my posts, I really have little spare time to sit and write (and am currently neglecting my hungry belly and piles of laundry by forcing myself to finish this thing!) But despite how hard it is to be a full time stay-at-home-mom, when given the choice, this is exactly where I feel I need to be.
However, I will admit that there are still days I long for something more. Either time alone or time to socialize with other adults, as well as a daily purpose beyond the walls of this home. That desire points me back to my profession and affirms my decision to return to work in some capacity, even if it is infrequent. When I am at work, I give my patients all I have to give, and one day, I know I will move it higher up my chain of priorities. But for now, I know my heart is to be at home the majority of the time.
So to wrap up my lengthy discussion on this matter, I will summarize with this – after over a year of putting my career on hold, I stepped back into the clinic last week and was happy to be there. I loved seeing my patients again, working to meet their healthcare needs, and catching up with staff. But by the end of the day Friday, I was ready to get home and see my girls. The drive felt so long and full of anticipation. And as I walked through the door, I was greeted with their joyful giggles of excitement and covered in their sweet hugs and kisses. It brought the day to a close and made me thankful for the opportunity to have such valuable work at home but also have a profession that allows me so much flexibility in this season of my life.