Working Mama

Colorado Fall ColorWhen I went back to school for graphic design in 2006, I knew that my career and biological clock were bound on a collision course. I got married in 2007, and we started talking about babies about a year after I finished school. My little girl is now just over a year and a half and the juggling act between parenthood and career feels daunting at best, and utterly insurmountable on days like today.

This morning when I went to drop my daughter off, she cried and wrapped her little arms so tightly around me, it brought tears to my eyes. This is the third week that she has been in day care- just two mornings per week. I get to do some work, and I still get to spend most of my days with my daughter. But walking away from your child when tears are streaming down her face is enough to make you question everything.

For many different reasons, both financial and personal, I want to work. I want a career. When I sit down to work on an illustration and lose myself completely for hours, I want to see what comes next. When I can’t sleep at night because of the shiny, sparkly creative buzz (that’s really how it feels) I get from doing what I love, I can’t just walk away.

Today, my ambition feels far more selfish than sparkly.

Being a good mama is just as, if not more, important than any career aspirations I entertain. I want to show my daughter the world. To protect her from pain for as long as I can. And when I can’t protect her, I want to be there to give her a hug and let her cry on my shoulder. I want to bake cookies, and have hot chocolate with marshmallows together on snowy afternoons. I want to show her how beautiful and magical life can be.

I don’t have it figured out. Not by a long shot. But day by day, as a family we are evolving and shifting things around. I now have about 20 hours to work each week, cobbled together between evenings, nap time, help from family, and now daycare. We will keep muddling through, one step at a time. Amid the exhaustion and the overwhelm, we will keep showing up and doing our best. And we will hope that that’s enough.

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