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The Back to Work Dilemma

The first thing I perfected when I became a mom was the art of decision-making. It happened in the maternity ward. My day old son was screaming and I was feeling completely inadequate after another failed attempt at breastfeeding.

My first major choice was upon me. Do I let him cry? Nurse him again? Wake my blissfully sleeping husband? WHAT DO I DO? I called the on-duty nurse. “Please, help,” I pleaded. “I don’t know what to do.” She looked at me and said sternly, “You’re the mother. Do what you need to do.”

Ouch. As much as I wanted to cry, I stayed quiet because, ultimately, she was right. I am the mother. I needed to own this moment. And I did. From then on, for every decision, I went with my gut. In this case, I tried nursing again, and it worked. After that, making decisions became second nature. And, I got really good at it.

Months later I received a call I had been dreading – the one from my employer asking if I would be returning to work. Fortunately, the end of my maternity leave did not rear its ugly head until my son’s first birthday. Though I had had plenty of time to make my choice, I truly hadn’t given it a thought. True to form, my gut jumped into action and my decision came quickly. So quick, in fact, I worried it was rash and uninformed. So I turned to family and friends for their thoughts.

While varied in substance, their responses were incredibly emotionally charged. Turns out the dilemma about whether to return to work can make people very defensive. My devotion to my son and husband, my feminist ideals, my longheld aspirations were all in question. If I went back to work, then I “hadn’t put my family first.” If I stayed home, I “would miss out on my life.” Our conversations were colourful, candid and completely draining.

Amid everyone’s diatribes, my guttural reaction resurfaced and I knew that I had to find some way to combine my career ambition and role as mom. For that reason, I chose to launch my own business and work from home. I am still trying to find the perfect balance between work and motherhood. It isn’t easy, but, it was my decision – I made the call, I owned it, I did what I needed to do.

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