I am 24 years old, and I have a 3-year-old daughter. Ay mamacita.
I vividly remember buying my first case of beer when I turned 21 and not being able to drink it. I was hosting my first gender reveal, and for Dominicans it really isn't a party without alcohol. The lady at the cash register looked at me and my very pregnant belly like, estara loca esta, as I reassured her, "these aren't for me, I swear. " Young motherhood has its challenges. Making time for friends, being a regular twenty-something year old, co-parenting, dating (don’t get me started on dating) - but the rewards are more than I could have bargained for. We live in a time where we stray farther and farther away from the traditional mother mold. More and more women are continuing their careers being the badasses that they were before pregnancy because ..
Pregnancy is not a death sentence.
I became pregnant just 2 months before I started my graduate program and I figured I had two options, I could defer my acceptance a year OR I could just do it and figure it out as I go. Thanks to a little motivation and a push from those around me I enrolled in my first year at Columbia University - it was exasperating.
Amongst a high risk pregnancy and a pregnancy policy that didn't exist I was swimming in unchartered waters. I didn't know how I would do it – I just knew it would get done (this is still a mentality I use to this day). Fast forward two years later, I walked across the stage at The Beacon Theatre with a one year old on my hip.
The struggle doesn't end there though. I have a demanding job. Correction! I have a demanding job - that I absolutely love. The downside of this is the fact that I have a little three year old that needs my time just as much if not more than the 20 students I guide through the college process. Some of my nights are long, sometimes I'm unable to make it to daycare on time, sometimes I'm just too damn tired to play "Peppa Pig" on the floor because I just want to exist … and that's okay.
We shame moms for continuing to pursue their dreams, when we should be encouraging them to show their children what they are able to accomplish when they work hard at their passions. I love my job, and I love being able to tell my daughter all that I was able to accomplish when she was just a toddler. Mothers already have the odds stacked up against them - employers that don’t believe in their potential and lack of time to give freely to name a few. The last thing we need is someone in our ear telling us what we should and shouldn’t do with our careers.
Being a professional and a mother at the same time has taught me a lot about myself, my capabilities, and my ability to organize/plan. For all my badass mami’s that are straddling the mom world and the professional world – here are a few tips and tricks that I swear by:
Separation of Work and Life: This one is my main source of sanity. When I am not at work, I AM NOT AT WORK. When I can avoid bringing any work home, I do so. Our children deserve undivided attention, as our jobs already have us for 8+ hours a day! This may be inevitable sometimes, which brings me to my next point…
Plan ahead: Those who know me really well might say I have a planning problem. I love to plan in advance – this comes in handy when I have to bring work home. If you know that you’re about to get swamped, plan an evening with your child so that you don’t feel as guilty when you can’t play Peppa Pig.
Negotiate: Sometimes working from home is inevitable. Negotiate with yourself! What does that look like? Let’s say I can’t play much on Monday. This means that by default on Tuesday I have to come straight home and play with my daughter without interruption until bedtime or take a dreaded trip to the park (I hate the park).
Non-negotiable: Think about what are things you are unwilling to give up and make them hard boundaries at work. For example, a non-negotiable for me is the time I leave. I can only stay late a maximum of twice a week. Anymore than that is too much, and I stick by that non-negotiable.
Support: Find your support system! I am lucky to have my mom and my daughter’s father + his family be super involved. It’s super important to find the people who are not only able to help you out in terms of childcare, but also the people who you can run to for sanity. If you have ever watched my daughter so that I could take an uninterrupted long hot shower – I appreciate you.
Routines: Children find comfort in routine, and so will you! If there is something you could do with your child every single day, it will help the connection stay alive. I have a bedtime routine that I follow with my daughter every day, which includes tickles and bedtime stories. No matter WHAT happens during the day, my daughter knows that she can count on a bedtime story and bedtime snuggles before bed.
Find YOUR sanity: Being a professional and a mommy leaves us very little time to just be us. Be cautious of this, and pencil in YOU time! Remember to do something for YOU consistently whether that’s going to the gym or taking a class or two. Surround yourself around people who understand your hectic lifestyle and are flexible with you. Bless my poor boyfriend’s heart for putting up with me.
I wish I had the answers. I wish I could give you a cookie cutter formula to how we can blend our professional selves with our mother selves but I can’t - It varies by the mami! At the end of the day, no matter your situation just know that you are doing the best you can, and your child(ren) will notice. We are the brand new wave of motherhood, and we are completely taking over. Better yet, arrazando. (;
Stay strong mamis.