Today a new friend asked me how the transition to working outside of the home one day a week had been. And it’s something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately. So much changed when I became a parent, and one of those things was a choice to work less. I was and am so thankful to have the option and it’s something that I don’t take for granted.
Until my daughter was born, so much of my identity revolved around my work. I loved it. I loved the babies, I loved connecting with families. I loved (and still do) placing a baby in his or her mother’s arms for the first time. It still takes my breath away. But when I went down to two shifts a week, the opportunity to “primary” a baby practically disappeared. Even when I did form a strong attachment to a baby or family, it was rare for me to be assigned to care for that baby regularly. And that is something I grieved. As difficult as it was to be away from my own baby, and as much as I wanted to be home with her, when I was at work, I still wanted to have the same work experiences that I had previously. But I couldn’t. And I had to grieve that. I was choosing to give up something that I loved for someone I loved far greater, but I still felt the loss.
And now. Now I work one shift a week. And I am so thankful for that. I’m thankful for a job that allows me that flexibility and that my husband wants to be at home with our kids. I’m thankful for the “break” that it provides once a week and that I can interact with adults on a professional level. I’m thankful that I do still get to interact with babies and families in a meaningful way, even if it’s not the same as it once was. I am truly thankful.
But. Working only one day a week has its pitfalls. Enough new staff has been hired that I don’t know many of my coworkers anymore. Recently I walked into work a different way than usual and I didn’t recognize a single night shift nurse. And they didn’t recognize me. It was like I was the one that was new, instead of actually being one of the more senior nurses. It was really humbling. And frustrating.