Going Back to Work by
(309 Stories)

Prompted By Going to Work

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Mother and Child,  Mary Cassatt 1897

Going Back to Work

I was working as a high school librarian,   with an easy 20 minute highway commute,  when I discovered  I was pregnant.   I happily applied for a maternity leave and told my principal I’d be leaving a week or two before my mid-March due date.   And by that time – with my big belly – it was getting difficult to fit behind the steering wheel.  (Against school policy I kept my keys!)

My husband Danny and I had dutifully attended a Lamaze class,   and were anticipating a natural childbirth,   but apparently the baby had other ideas.   He was in a breach position and had to be delivered by Cesarean.    (See My Brown-Eyed Girl)

Back then hospital stays after childbirth were several days long,   but after C-sections or other complications the stay might be as long as a week,  and that was the case with me.   Of course I was anxious to get home with my new baby boy,  and at the time I probably didn’t appreciate those extra days of hospital rest.

Thankfully once we got home –  despite those middle-of-the-night feedings,  the lack of sleep and irritability,  and all else new parents are heir to –  all went well and we had the spring and summer to  show our little Noah the world.  However I had every intention of going back to work in September,   and so over the summer I weaned the baby and we had the good fortune to find a wonderful nanny.  (See Our Noisy Nanny)

And in September I did go back,  but it was exhausting  – driving to school in the morning after too little sleep,   coming home tired every afternoon,   taking over the child care and household chores when the nanny left,  making  dinner,   and then the bath-time and bed-time routines.

We were living in Westchester then,  and Danny’s  long work hours and his train commute to his mid-Manhattan office often brought him home too late to be of much help.   So after one semester – although I loved being back at work –  I was a nervous wreck and felt I needed to take a child care leave.   It was the right decision and I was able to enjoy several wonderful years parenting Noah full-time.   (See Stay-at-Home Mom)

One day during those magical years I remember sitting in the park as I watched Noah play in the sandbox,   and wishing that precious time could stand still.   But of course it couldn’t,   and all too soon he started kindergarten and I knew it was time I went back to work.  I wasn’t apprehensive about leaving him,  I knew he’d be in good hands with loving grandparents nearby and a wonderful nanny.

Nevertheless,   I dreaded how I’d feel when the day finally came.   When it did I kissed Noah good-bye,  and carrying my school keys and a paper cup of tea I headed to the garage for my car.   Then starting off on that familiar early morning commute back to a job I loved,  I actually felt pretty good!

Dana Susan Lehrman 

Profile photo of Dana Susan Lehrman Dana Susan Lehrman
This retired librarian loves big city bustle and cozy country weekends, friends and family, good books and theatre, movies and jazz, travel, tennis, Yankee baseball, and writing about life as she sees it on her blog World Thru Brown Eyes!

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Tags: Parenting
Characterizations: funny, moving, well written


  1. Laurie Levy says:

    We had similar journeys, Dana. When my third child and youngest started kindergarten, I returned to work. And it was part time at that, a 5 minute drive from home. Although there were time I felt a was losing my mind during those stay-at-home years, it made going back to work much sweeter.

  2. Oh yeah…those first months of child-rearing are sooo challenging…makes me wonder how (and why!) older parents do it, and often grandparents. I loved babysitting my granddaughters, as much as I loved handing them back to their parents!

  3. Marian says:

    This story so well expresses the joys and challenges of parenting and work, Dana. I’m so glad you got to enjoy time with Noah and then relished returning to work when the time was right for you. That’s what it’s all about!

  4. Khati Hendry says:

    So glad you were able to return to the work you loved after the break–not a universal situation. Your story illustrates so well why the work of having a family and the work to support the family and the work to do other creative things in the world are all part of a full life–and why we need better systems to support that integrated life.

  5. Betsy Pfau says:

    My mother-in-law and I used to discuss the pros and cons of women trying to do it all. I think you made a smart decision, Dana. You spent those early, formative years with Noah, then went back to a job you love, commute and all (and I love that you kept those keys).

    I did something similar. I planned to just stay home 4 months after David was born, but decided to stay out longer. I went back after 18 months, but when the company got into trouble and needed to lay off people and I was pregnant with #2, I volunteered, knowing that I would not come back to work with two little ones around. And I have not regretted that decision. Working for two years with a little one (I had three nannies, with varying degrees of success over that time) was very challenging. You are lucky that you had a job you loved and a nanny you trusted.

  6. Suzy says:

    Nice that you had those wonderful years at home with Noah, and great that you kept the keys to your school all that time!

  7. John Shutkin says:

    Great story, Dana. It is also a good reminder to all of us supposedly liberated guys out there just how difficult the decisions about work and home life were for mothers back then – -and, yes, still now. That said, it sounds as though you chose the right time to do what was best in your life, even if you couldn’t “have it all” all of the time. Brilliant!

  8. Dave Ventre says:

    Children are one of the few life experiences I have not experienced. Unimaginably different.

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