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[WHO] Mommy Mondays

Updated: Mar 19, 2020

It’s September in New England, my favorite month here. The oppressive heat/humidity/bug mixture has backed off but the sun is still shining. I played soccer with my boys today, my four year old and I running across the field we had all to ourselves, laughing as we chased each other. The baby in the stroller, being pushed along so he could he included too. I’m off with my boys once a week, every Monday, “Mommy Monday” we call it. And it’s perfect.

Six months ago, two days after bringing home a newborn, our oldest son entered a state we learned was called “Electrical Status Epilepticus during Slow-Wave Sleep”. Thus beginning a three week period of uncontrolled seizures and irregular brain wave activity, a new diagnosis of Doose Syndrome, changed from simply epilepsy 3 months prior.

We were warned by his neurology team that his development may start to be impacted. To look out for signs of regression. To hope that even though his medicine isn’t showing any indication of controlling the seizures yet, we should take him home and wait for the medicine to kick in.

“You’re strong,” my post-partum counselor said, when I downloaded her on my situation.

“Thanks.” I said. “I’m lucky the baby is easy.”

At first I thought, well, no shit. Of course I’m strong. I have to be. I didn’t choose to be. No one willingly signs up for personal trials and tribulations. As a matter of fact, it would be kind of nice to not be the strong one for a change. And then I thought, you know what:

I am.

The end of my maternity leave rolled around and I made the decision to quit my job. Flexibility was not an option, and that’s what I cared most about. This was not easy, the idea of stay at home motherhood— I had my first baby 3 weeks after finishing grad school, and went to an interview two weeks after he was born, desperately job searching for the entire 6 months thereafter. Working (and talking about work, and working with others on their work) is what I do. But it was time to be brave and do what was right. My boys needed me. It was decided. I met my boss for coffee. She held my baby, cooed over him, and said, you know what, I’d do the same thing. I believed her. And settled in to my new life with a confident ease of knowing I followed my heart.

A week later I got a message on LinkedIn: “Hello, a client of mine is looking for someone with your skill set. Are you looking for opportunities?”

First thought: Oh god what scam is this.

Then: Sure, I’ll bite.

Turns out the client happened to be a company I interviewed with two years prior, and loved.

A week later, I suited up for the first time in months and drove into the city, my BellaBand tucked in my purse under my wallet in case the button treacherously holding my pants up gave way.

I had no idea what to expect. I was tired of desperately saying yes to offers out of scarcity, of feeling I had to take it or there would never be another job. Of staying in a job because of the worry there’d never be another one. Of choosing my work over my kids. Of hoping that if I put in enough hours somewhere I could get a schedule break. And nothing. I already spent the first four years of my oldest’s life hustling to find a balance. I was exhausted.

Showing up on this day was to go against my decision to choose my children. To go back on my conviction to stop filling up all my time with work. To stop trying to find my personal worth through my employment.

But then I walked in and immediately felt at ease.

We hit it off. No sooner than when I arrived home after the meeting I got a call with a full time contract offer. From a dream employer of mine. And a chance to learn something new. With a 3 month old and a 3 year old with newly onset epilepsy, I had a decision to make.

We went back and forth through the recruiter. Was I inclined to accept? Of course, I said. Full time is really challenging, I added.

Not demanding. Not desperate. Just the facts. This deal would have to work for my life. Plain and simple. A few more back and forth emails, and I got a budge: How about 1 work from home day?

I‘m turning it down. I told my husband, on our drive to look at plants for our backyard. He said he’ll support me either way I decide. Right then a bus with the company logo passed us.

Really? I said. Seriously?

i internally flip-flopped back and forth. This could be a huge win for me. This could be the career move I’ve needed since we relocated for his job two years prior.

But my babies.

I’m declining, I told him before he fell asleep. And then a thought struck me: What would you need to make this work? Well I need at least 2 days working from home. Then that’s what you ask for, was the response.

So the next morning I asked for that.

And then I got a phone call: “I got your email and I’m so exited to nail down details with you. The recruiter told me you’re transitioning from maternity leave, which has to be really hard. How about I do you one better?”

That would literally be everything I’ve ever wanted, I said. Do. Not. Cry. I willed myself.

I hung up, stunned. Then released the rush of emotion. What if my career doesn’t have to be over. What if it’s just starting to take off?

And just like that, Mommy Mondays were born.


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