New Mom, New Job, New Mindset

By Lauren Sulkowski

“It gets easier.” “Take it one day at a time.” “You can do this!” These are the phrases family and friends have shared to show me support in going back to work after having my son.

I think back to the end of January when I welcomed my son into the world and I never could have imagined that my first week returning to work would also include a global pandemic and national racial injustice protests. No words of support or encouragement could have prepared me for what 2020 has become.

The emotional rollercoaster that one goes through after having a baby is intense in and of itself but adding a global pandemic on top of it felt suffocating. I felt ripped of the opportunity for friends and family to meet my son. I felt ripped of the chance to take him on long walks and show him my favorite sights around this city we love so much. I felt ripped of the planned meetups with other new moms I was supposed to have. For many weeks I was angry at COVID and the world for changing my plans of this special time with my first-born child. Yet, after quarantining at home with my son for 4 months, I couldn’t imagine doing anything else.

When the days started to countdown for my return to work, I was becoming increasingly more anxious. I was in the throes of still trying to social distance, grappling with my husband being an essential worker, noticing the signs of racial injustice protests popping up in cities across our country, and starting a new job with a new company. Questions immediately raced through my mind:

“How will I start this new job virtually?”

 “Will my son think I’m abandoning him when I leave him with someone else every morning?”

“Will my brain work after four months of speaking ‘baby-talk’?”

That first week back at work was emotional and heavy. I was meeting people for the first time in a new company. I was trying to maintain social distancing and be comfortable wearing a mask while not shaking people’s hands. I was coming home at night to watch the horrors of what was happening across our country on the news. I was having feelings of guilt of not being home with my son all day.

I am lucky, and privileged, that my family has the means to have childcare that exists in our home. We were blessed with the gift of finding an amazing nanny that loves our son as much as we do. For me, that is the only thing that makes coming to work every day easier, knowing that I have an amazing support system while I am at work. It’s the recent protests across our country that have made me realize how privileged I am and that not every mother has the same experience returning to work that I do.

I now have two weeks back at work full time under my belt. Starting a new job virtually at Cotter wasn’t hard at all with the amazing technology tools we have available to us! My son is excited to see our nanny come to our house every morning and that gives me joy knowing that he is equally as happy with her. Luckily, my brain does still work and I have been able to hold many value add conversations with colleagues again. It does get easier. I do take it one day at a time. And I CAN, do this!