I am a Go-To-Work Mom, as opposed to a Stay-At-Home Mom. I’d love to be the latter, but I have the great blessing of being able to be the former.
A Stay-at- Home Mom finds fulfillment in, and is able to act on, the unique calling a mother has to raise her children. Any number of people could fill a particular role in a particular business, but no one can mother her children as well as she.
While I would love to be a SAH Mom, but with how fulfilling my job is, it makes it hard to leave my position at Right to Life. Fortunately, my organization, valuing family the way it does, allows me to bring my babies into work instead of having to leave them in someone else’s care.
RuRu came with me to the office every day until she was over a year old and TomTom has just started as I’m returning from maternity leave. He likely won't stay with me for as long as RuRu did - she started turning off power strips that caused spontaneous computer shut downs - but it's a beautiful thing to have him for at least as long as milk is the main component of his diet and he doesn't cause too much chaos.
Being a Go-To-Work Mom is wonderful, hugely difficult, and a great way to teach our community to value the littlest members of the human race.
You can imagine why it's wonderful. No pumping since my little person is with me, no wondering if he’s getting held enough or his diaper changed enough or snuggled enough. Working in the Right to Life office he definitely gets all the snuggles a person could ask for! And I do miss having RuRu with me all day, every day but I love the daycare she’s at and know that she’s having a blast developing friendships and learning. Most days she greets me at pick up time with, “Mommy! Why are you picking me up?!”
The difficulty with bringing a baby to work is that you’re doing double time. And it's exhausting. You’re working 2 full time jobs simultaneously and when you get home, the mom-ing doesn’t stop. There’s no flopping down into a recliner and turning on the TV and turning off the responsibility. You’re with your baby 24-7 and it can be frustrating to have zero breaks. Like many things in a mom’s life, this can make you feel like a basket case - you want your baby with you all the time, but you need a break, but often as soon as you’re away from your baby you miss him!
I call my babies Ambassador Babies while they come to work with me. Much like the Ambassador Animals at the zoo, a great many people have little experience with, or are scared of babies. It's incredible. Our society as a whole does not accept babies as part of the normal world. There are many places where it's seen as unacceptable to bring a crying, pooping, nursing baby. And when you have a baby with you, you learn what those places are pretty quickly. You can feel the glares on your back and the vibes that say, “You’re ruining my nice time by bringing that loud thing in here.”
It was astounding when I first experienced this with Ruth. Especially because, thanks to BabyWearing (wrapping baby on you to carry them), she hardly ever made a peep because she was so happy, and I didn’t have a bulky car seat or stroller or anything that could possibly cause an inconvenience to another customer, but the attitude was there regardless. The attitude, broadly speaking, says, “If mothers want to go out in public, they should leave their babies at home.” What kind of society wants to separate moms and babies? It's idiocracy! If you care at all about the future of your community then you should advocate mothers being with their children as much as possible. This is why other countries are providing longer maternity leaves.
This attitude that we see which says, “Babies are inconvenient and should be left at home when their mothers go out,” is frighteningly similar to a main thought behind the abortion movement. So similar in fact that you can take just the first 3 words and it works for both. And both are dead wrong. Children are the ONLY thing that matters (blog to come soon on that topic) and a society that acts contrary to that is crippling itself.
Ambassador Babies, who go to work with their mommies, give us a chance to begin deconstructing those biases.
One of the biggest challenges I’ve faced in bringing my baby to work is the idea that it's unprofessional. And it's a strange notion, really. It is possibly unprofessional, though maybe we should carve out a caveat considering the benefits to our mothers and babies. But for the sake of pursuing the objection, it's maybe unprofessional if the baby is ill-behaved? That begs the question, though, what does an ill-behaved baby look like? People often ask mothers with newborns if their babies are “good” babies. What’s a good baby? One who sleeps a lot with little effort on the adult’s part. One who rarely cries or demands to be picked up. That’s not a matter of being “good;” it's simply being convenient. That word is a red flag to me. All babies are good. As self-centered adults, we want convenient babies and when they’re inconvenient, that’s when we deem a situation to be “unprofessional.” Those are dark waters we’re entering.
I was talking once with a high school teacher for whom I regularly do pro-life apologetics presentations and I was telling her about my worries of seeming unprofessional when my baby fusses and I need to take a moment to settle her. Her reply was so beautiful. She said, “I think it's good for the high school kids to see. When a fellow human being is uncomfortable or needs something, we should take a moment or two to get them situated and then we can go on with what we were doing.”
I felt completely daft. Of course we can! How rude would it be for us to ignore a colleague who was uncomfortable, say, needing to use the restroom, and proceed with our meeting despite his discomfort! It takes nothing to pause and let him go and then pick up the meeting when he returns. Why would we call it unprofessional if a mother takes 30 seconds to adjust her baby so he’s more comfortable or to calm him or to do whatever it is he needs!
What I’ve discovered in bringing my babies to work with me is that our society holds a huge double standard which is tilted against our little people. They are just little people. Why are we acting like we can’t spare a minute of our time or comfort to cater to them when our lives should actually be oriented around them? The more we keep our babies with us and treat them like the small people they are, the more our culture can come to accept their presence and carve out time and energy for them instead of labeling them as inconvenient, loud and annoying.
I’ve also struggled with the idea of efficiency at work. If you’re also caring for a baby, how can you possibly get as much done as your non-parenting coworker? An article about Work Babies, includes this quote: ‘“Parents will work really hard to not have to stop bringing their baby to work with them,” says Moquin. “They’ll work through lunch and switch their schedules. Parents work hard not to be perceived as slacking off. Coworkers are often amazed at how well parents can do their work.”’ And I know this is true for me. There’s an initial dip in the amount of work I can get done as we get used to a new routine and find out what works and what doesn’t, but I’m very conscious of finding ways to make sure I get all my work done and that I’m not bogging down my coworkers.
If you’re in an office job, or one where you think you may be able to do your work with your baby, I’d encourage you to ask your HR department about bringing your next baby with you. The worst they can do is say no and the best that can happen is a shift in our culture to being more “pro-baby”.
Interested in being a Go-To-Work Mom but not sure how to do it? Watch for my upcoming blog on how to take your baby to work with you! Also check out the Parenting in the Workplace Institute.