I'm a mom to a six-month old boy. I'm in Canada so I still have a bit more than 3 months of maternity leave to enjoy.
When I was 4 months pregnant, I started a full-time evening course in Commercial Photography. It's a 4 semester program and I have completed 1 semester. Photography is my passion and I have been doing it for 11 years now. I did some classes in University (artistic photography) and assisted commercial photographers. The program I'm in is perfect for gaining advanced technical knowledge and learning from experienced top-notch local photographers and is unique to the city of live in.
The problem is that they're strict on full-time status as it's gouvernment funded. It's on average 4 nights a week for 3-4 hours. I just started last week but I already knew it would be too many evenings away from my baby. I have to leave the house at 6 and he goes to sleep at8:30. Another thing is homework. I have no one to babysit him during the day and truth be told I don't even really want to send him yet to a drop-in daycare. Therefore I'm depending on naptime to get homework (along with everything else) done.
My real question is how I can deal with this change in priority in my life. I love my baby and being a mom. At the same time, my passion for photography hasn't dwindled and this program I think will give me the skills to build a career. I'm 34 and would like a 2nd child so postponing my studies doesn't feel like an option. I have ideas on how I might convince them to do the program part-time but I'm not sure yet it will work...
I know you can't have it all. I'm trying to find options. How can I be a mom that's present yet still not give up my dream of pursuing a career I'm passionate about?
Congrats on your little one! And fantastic that you've been able to start your photography studies in pregnancy - now comes the challenging part - figuring out what this dream will look like now that you are immersed in life with your baby.
1. You know your passion. That in and of itself is an absolute blessing. So many women haven't yet found that path for themselves. Having a sense of inner commitment to this path, no matter how it may unfold, will serve as the foundation whether you're in school, taking some time off, or launching your photography practice
2. I hear your concern that this is more time than you want to take away from your baby, both in terms of the evening commitments and the daytime homework.
A few thoughts:
For Homework: Perhaps daytime playdate exchanges with a friend? Maybe two mornings a week you take turns for 2-3 hours? could even do it in your homes and you go into the office while she's playing in the living room with both babes.
Naptime: Naps are a valuable window, for sure, but not all that sustainable in terms of your homework load and just life responsibilities let alone self-care and a nap for mama too! I've also found it sets up a dynamic of being "desperate" for naptime to begin, and frustration when they wake. Having dedicated time is a very different experience to squeezing it all in during naps.
If this is your passion, and you're 100% clear that This is your time to make it happen, then it's time to get wildly creative AND be radically compassionate with yourself. No resentment, no guilt, just holding this vision of where you're headed as a photographer & a mother as your #1.
Your big question:
How can I be a mom that's present yet still not give up my dream of pursuing a career I'm passionate about?
I think your question is one that resonates with many many of the mamas on the forum. I've always returned to work at 5 months postpartum (self-employed & no childcare), so am very familiar with this dynamic. I don't think there's any such thing as having it all - even if we're doing it all, we too often end of feeling like we're not doing Any of it quite as well as we would like... Instead, we do the best we can in each given moment. We seek the small moments to carve out for ourselves. And the gift of self-employment is the room to get creative with your time & priorities. What you are doing Now for yourself is paving the way for a lifetime as a working mother who can have flexible hours.
As for practical tips?
Really get clear on how much time it is that you need. Schedule that with in-home daycare or a care exchange with a friend. For bedtime routines, perhaps find an activity you can do with your baby each night just before you leave so you can feel you have your evening ritual together. Same for your coming home routine - perhaps have a sweet song you sing when you come home each night? Remember that the gift of "presence" isn't about the # of hours you are there, but the way you are with your children.
I'd love thoughts from other mothering readers as well...
Business "Doula" Care
Thanks SO much for your inspired response.
What really resonated with me is what you said about the "dynamic of being "desperate" for naptime to begin." I'm definitely going to look into getting some childcare at least one morning a week. As well, I really like how you say that "the gift of "presence" isn't about the # of hours you are there, but the way you are with your children." I will refer back to your response to encourage me along my path. Thanks!
I'm glad you found my words to be helpful The dynamic of desperation for naptime is a big one for many of us - and there is this twisted messaging we get around "sleep when baby sleeps" and "use that naptime as Youtime". I hope you're able to create the space you need to focus on your studies, and create special times when you can be fully present with your little one without the pull of your homework needing to be done.