I knew the morning after Aurora was born that I wouldn’t be “coming back.” And I have a random nurse in the Mother-Baby wing at Millard Fillmore Suburban Hospital to thank for helping me make that decision.
I always thought I would come back. For years, I’ve thought that having a “career” would be my ticket to happiness. Careers are for successful people and dammit, I was going to be successful. After I had the baby, I was going to be the career woman who expertly juggled her work, her children, her marriage, her family, her friends, her home, and herself. I was going to have an all black wardrobe that would make any New Yorker green with envy. I was going to climb that corporate ladder from the bottom and I was going to be a better woman for it. After all, I was an adult in my late twenties with a mortgage and a student loan payment. This is the time where I need to push myself or else that’s all I would ever be. Only I’d get older. I needed to go back to work to make something of myself, to be successful.
And then I had a moment with my new daughter. Hours old with Dad asleep on the chair beside the bed, I held her. And I felt at peace; I felt like I had a handle on this motherhood thing. She was mine, an extension of me. How hard could it be to mother her? She “burrowed” into my chest and just slept, with her hands clenched into tiny fists next to her head. It was four in the morning and the nurse had just come in to check on both of our vitals. That’s when she started to choke…violently. On her own spit, of all things. I had no idea what I was doing. She didn’t either. I mean what baby just chokes on her own spit?! I panicked; Aurora looked panicked.The nurse just calmly snatched her up, smacked her on the back, and handed her back to me. Aurora was fine. I started to cry. My horrendous labor had ended six hours ago; I hadn’t slept more than 45 minutes, Dad was asleep on the chair, Aurora wasn’t eating properly, and while I’m enjoying a sweet moment with my daughter, she almost kills herself! Clearly, I’ve made a mistake and I’m not fit to be a Mom. I think the nurse could see my thoughts because she said to me”this doesn’t make you a bad mom; you’re just a new mom. But remember,to her, you’re “mom.”
And she left the room.
I’m “mom.” It’s only a different chapter for me but it’s the only chapter Aurora knows. For me, “mom” is my career. I have been trying to find what makes me the happiest career wise for a long time. I’ve been an office assistant, tutor, the “berry stop” girl, barista, server, bartender, call center representative, insurance agent, HR administrator and other little things in between. And while I enjoy the jobs I’ve had over the years (some more than others), I’ve never felt more successful than when I look at Aurora. As cliche as it is, she is my greatest adventure.
And with that, I hang up my hat in corporate America because I was never meant to be the career woman I tried so hard to be. The only ladders I want to climb bring me to the top of the slide in the playground on a Tuesday morning.
P.S. My wardrobe…will still be black.