One year ago I was 8 months pregnant and adjusting to lockdown life after abruptly saying goodbye to my co-workers and Global BC viewers. Now a year later I am getting ready to step out of my condo, put on something other than black leggings and join my team on Global News Morning.The transition from mat-leave life to working mom is definitely amplified by the isolation of the pandemic. A year spent inside my home caring for my son and wearing pjs until noon — to waking up at 3am, putting on a dress, being camera ready and broadcasting to thousands of British Columbians at the crack of dawn is going to take some adjusting.
I am so thankful to have had the past week to slowly transition back to work life. I have been in the newsroom for the past week reacquainting myself and also adjusting to the new normal of social distancing and strict health and safety measures in the workplace (when I left it was still pre-pandemic business as usual in the building). However, it’s also been a week of emotional highs and lows…excitement to get back to work and see my colleagues again — coupled with the overriding mom-guilt which can have me sobbing if I think about my son too much. I naively never knew it would be this hard. I have to admit I have had several moments over the past couple weeks where I have broken down in tears -- holding my son in my arms and wondering where all the time has gone. It all went by so fast. All of this has me realizing I am part of a community of mothers who have gone through all the feels I am feeling right now. So instead of keeping it to myself, I’d like to share with you some of my struggles as I transition back to work.
1. Mom Guilt
I have had moments of mom guilt throughout mat leave, but with pandemic restrictions and so little we can reasonably do outside of the house I have hardly been apart from my son for more than a few hours at a time. So when I spent the past week in the newsroom easing myself back into work life I found myself surfing the emotional ups and downs. Happy to have a change of pace, but feeling overwhelming guilt for not being at home to care for my son and knowing that I won’t be there to see every milestone as it happens. My son Hugo is on the verge of walking and I know missing that is really going to be a gut punch, but as my mom to poignantly said to me, it’s good for me to get out of the house and have a shift from child care. She is right on the money. As much as I love being a mother, it also feels good to know that it is not ALL that I am. My goal going forward is to be fully present…have my head in the game when I am at work and when I am at home to focus my energy on my family and of course myself.
2. Switching to work-mode
The isolation of the year really makes me feel as if I am crawling out of the darkness of a cave and into the overwhelming brightness of the sun…in this case the glare of studio lights. On top of that I don’t feel like the same person I was before. I see things through a different lens and I feel more empathetic than ever. At moments it’s had me doubting myself, but I hope both of these things will make me a better journalist. There is something else that I can’t get off my mind. It’s hard enough transitioning to work-life, but I have to admit doing it in the public eye with twitter trolls standing by is going to take some getting used to. Working in the media for the past 15 years I built a thick skin and got pretty good at ignoring negativity, but I feel motherhood has thinned that skin. I feel softer (emotionally and physically…haha!) and more self-conscious.
3. Managing my time
How am I going to be able to do it all? The truth is I won’t. As I write this Hugo is literally in my lap trying to tap at the keys — and has surprisingly managed to video call my mom with a swipe at the keyboard and almost knock over my water glass onto my laptop — so I know that managing my time between work and home is going to come with a re-framed set of expectations. In the first few weeks my focus is really just going to be the basics — going to work, spending time with my family before getting ready for work again. I have been making lists like crazy to try and stay on top of my to do’s and this has been so helpful. The added satisfaction of crossing those items off is making me feel incredibly productive — something I haven’t felt for a very long time. I know that I am not going to be able to fit as much in my day as I did before becoming a mother and that’s ok. Once I feel settled with my new routine my plan is to look at things objectively and make a realistic plans for meal prep, workouts and household chores.
4. One day at a time
This brings me to my next thought. I already know from the first week, that some days are going to be easier than others. I realize this is only going to become more pronounced in my first few weeks. This is new territory to for me and I willingly admit I don’t know how to navigate it all. The best I can do is give myself grace and really take it one day at a time. As much as everyone says its like riding a bike, I know there could be some wobbly days ahead. There is no manual for becoming a mother, nor is there one for being a working mom. I will do my best and make the experience one that works for me.
5. It takes a village
This transition wouldn’t be possible if I didn’t have incredible support around me. I am so thankful for the friends, co-workers and even strangers who have reached out to offer me support knowing full well how difficult the transition can be. I am beyond grateful for all the kind words. I am also so thankful to my mother who is helping us out and looking after Hugo while I am at work. We haven’t been offered a daycare spot -- despite being on several waitlists for more than a year -- and frankly I have had so many reservations about sending my son to a new place with the risk of COVID transmission being as high as ever. So thank you to my mom and in the near future my dad who like so many other grandparents over the past year, are leaving their responsibilities behind to help their grown children. It’s been such a comfort knowing that Hugo is going to be showered with love by trusted family while I am working.
The past year has likely felt like a time warp for you and I am certainly in the same boat. Becoming a mother during a global pandemic has had its emotional challenges, but for the most part I am extremely grateful for all the uninterrupted time I got to spend with my sweet baby Hugo. With my husband Chris primarily working from home it has pretty much been the three of us for the past year and as I get ready to join my team on Global News Morning I can’t help but look back and appreciate how special this time has been.