Let me just clarify a little, that I'm sharing my motherhood journey because I hope other working moms (especially those in music) can see that not only CAN this be done but that it IS being done. And, in truth, it has already been done - just like so many other aspects of motherhood, behind closed doors.
As I write down these experiences, I'm aware that some might seem ridiculous and uninteresting to many - but I'm the kind of person who does (and did!) a lot of research and as I looked for ideas about how to navigate and ultimately reconcile the 'problems' of motherhood and musicianship. I didn't find very much and that alone can be scary and disheartening because, at least for me, you can feel like an outsider when you go through something very important that not everyone shares.
So in the spirit of creating resources for new professional moms or really anyone who just needed to take a minute off and then return, these are some of my experiences.
I decided to return to work at the beginning of the Fall Semester because I thought that would be easier to just bite the bullet. If I had taken FMLA, I would have had to return to work at week 7 of the semester - just near the halfway point. My thoughts at the time were that making the transition back to work would be difficult enough, no need to make it more difficult by adding in a cold start to the classroom that already would have a 'flow' by the middle of the semester.
I have been a music theory professor for about 15 years now, and yet - in my six week postpartum world - I was very nervous to return to work. This nervousness wasn't because of teaching but mostly because of the planning that went into me being able to do my job.
These are real examples of the higher anxiety issues that I encountered and had to overcome when I returned to work:
1. I had to bring what let's just call 'feeding stuff' on a daily basis, figure out how to manage all the materials needed, (and their cleaning) for that as well as schedule that around my course and workload. (This was a main focal point because we had some trouble on the food front at first and I was very worried about maintaining our good progress)
2. Organizing childcare, my sister had a baby 4 weeks after I did. So when I was returning to work, we were also trying to help her do those early home and caretaking needs that new parents need. Without my mom, returning to work would not have been possible. Which made me realize how invested WHOLE FAMILIES are in working moms. Its not just me that supports my work, my daughter does, my husband does, my mom does, etc. We all contribute to my working. It is a group effort. [There is a lot to talk about here, so I may circle back around to this in a later post]
3. Driving a car. This may sound silly but I was actually worried to drive. My work is 1 hour and 15 minutes from my home, one way. Fun fact: Six week old babies sleep very often throughout the day (and night) but they don't sleep very long. So I was up every 2 and a half hours at night (and all day) with the baby. Driving a car, on a highway, that distance, with my brain in such a mushy state due to lack of sleep made me very nervous at the time.
4. Finding time. Before baby, I put many hours into my work, and those hours were largely irregular. I don't mean that I don't have a routine or schedule when it came to work (I did of course) BUT I could open up my hours (or flex) any time I needed too. For example, if I was working on a project that needed more time I could simply say, "oh I want this to be better, I'll work on this a bit more" ...... that really changed.
After baby, I have to plan my work ahead with a fine toothed comb, at least that was my approach to the first semester of school, I'll talk more about this in the next blog post.