I’ll kick this off as briefly as possible. But full disclosure: I’m a long-winded gal who is eager to share my life with you ladies. So forgive the ramble. I mean well.
My name is Jessie Collins, and my daughter was born on March 17, 2015. I work full time in communications and concept branding. I write from that perspective alone, so it’s important that I start with this:
My experiences are my own, and I, in no way, believe that any mother is working harder or more purposefully than any other based on the decision to stay at home or work elsewhere. We are all WORKING our asses off in the exact way that our families need, and that should be celebrated!
Now, on the decision to work:
My whole life, I’ve been my best self when I’m doing hands-on work that helps people enter more deeply into community and relationship. Early in my pregnancy, my husband and I decided (knowing nothing about raising a child) that I would be the strongest version of myself for our family if I worked full time. It was important for us that our daughter saw us both at our best – serving other people in roles that required us to push ourselves in a really specific way, every single day.
We were, of course, brilliant – had it all figured out and were the world’s best parents before we ever even met our girl (ha!).
Fast forward 9 months later, Amelia Lorraine was born. I wanted to be a mother forever, and here we were. After 47 hours in labor (no joke), she was here, and those nurses up and left, throwing us head on into the thrills and terror of parenthood. I remember sitting at home the first day and saying things like, “Where do we put her?” as we tried to navigate integrating this tiny, perfect human into our selfish, chaotic lives.
We didn’t have the chance to be confused for long because two weeks later, I experienced postpartum complications and went back into the hospital (details to come in later post). I was in and out of the hospital for a few weeks and felt disconnected from my baby and completely clueless. My husband took over, navigating the first few weeks of parenthood basically without me, with the help of good, devoted friends and family. I felt like I might never connect with Amelia and had absolutely no idea how to be a mother to a child or a wife to a father.
Having already missed time, I was completely guilt-ridden about the decision to work. I pushed my start date back (which we were not in a financial position to do) and suddenly had to ask myself if the decision to work was sincerely what I wanted or if it was just our financial reality.
The answer was and is: both.
Suddenly I resented work that I once loved because it was just another barrier between Amelia and me. I still wasn’t making enough money to make a huge difference at home, and I was angry that I felt I didn’t have a choice. My whole adult life (I say that as if I’m much older than I am), I identified as a working women. I spent time and passionate energy writing about empowering women, getting inspired by female business owners and devoting so much of myself to, one day, inspire others through my work. Now, I was knee-deep in a combined identity crises: new mom + someone who didn’t live for work.
My feelings changed day-by-day, hour-by-hour. In one moment, I was proud to work hard for a purpose rather than money so my daughter had that particular example. In the next moment, that work was nothing more than unnecessary time away, and I cried at the thought of someone else spending their days with my baby.
(Ok, I acknowledge that there is a massive and very important chunk missing here. I’ll get to all of these things in later posts)
Now a year and a half later, I’m doing work that I love and feel energized by the daily challenge that my job and motherhood bring. I do feel like I’m my best self when I am working in some capacity. However, I am always desperate for a better balance, more energy and more time. My feelings still change day-by-day, hour-by-hour, and I’m often convinced that I’ll never really know what I’m doing.
My hope today is just to introduce myself and my story – to provide some background so there’s a little heart behind my future posts. As time goes on, I’ll write about my current struggles and joys surrounding this particular crazy (they’re all crazy) view of motherhood.
Until next time…