This week we present a guest blog writer, Jolynn Jaekel, who tells her story about becoming a mom, and her journey of balancing life and motherhood. Read her relatable and impressive story below!
Our mom was home with us while our dad went to work until I was in high school and even then, we had our grandmother to take care of us when mom went back to work. I grew up thinking that’s how it was done, but not certain that’s what I’d choose. Nothing about my path was traditional.
Here’s the Cliff’s Notes version… graduated college with a journalism degree; moved to Los Angeles and became an entertainment publicist; loathed LA; moved home to New Mexico; moved to New York City for a PR stint and confirmed I didn’t love PR but I did love New York; moved back to New Mexico to “figure it out;” rediscovered my love of acting; and then moved back to New York and became a professional sometimes working actor who taught fitness for survival. Whew!
So, when I finally got married and pregnant, I was hustling hard and knew no other way. BUT the second I looked into my daughter’s baby blues, everything changed. And it kept changing.
Before she arrived, I “knew” I’d be a better mommy if I was working out of the house. But then she came, and I realized I “knew” nothing. When I returned to work after my eight weeks of unpaid maternity leave, I couldn’t stand being away. I raced home as soon as I could, eliminating all non-parenting activities. It took both my husband and I plus two part time childcare providers to cover our crazy schedules with no family around for support. So, we moved to just outside of Washington, D.C., where one of my sisters lives.
We decided that initially, I would be home with our daughter. This was what I had been longing for, to be present for every single moment. At first, I reveled in the stay at home mom culture. We were busy with playdates, story time at the library, exploring every museum, farm, nature center and kids’ music performance, and finally making the crafts I’d pinned long ago. I got to be with my baby girl all the time. I was also alone with my baby girl a lot of the time. My husband’s hours had always been long, but now I was keenly aware of how long. My husband was receiving well deserved accolades at work but at home no one cheers you on for doing a great job cleaning a dirty diaper or gives you a promotion for keeping your child alive and well fed. It is the hardest job you’ll ever love. And I LOVED it, but I had no balance. I had cut myself off from everything I had known before motherhood and I began to notice.
I also began to realize it was time to go back to work because living on one salary in a city just as expensive as New York would not cut it, but where to begin and how to make it work? Fitness seemed like the most flexible place to start. I developed a mommy & me fitness program that let me teach a few classes with my daughter by my side. I eventually became a group fitness director at a local boutique gym which had on-site child care. It felt good to be back in the workforce without compromising my time with her. Then the gym eliminated child care. Time for Plan B.
We needed an additional income and I needed something of my own. I took a leap of faith with something I knew nothing about and previously had no interest in trying; a home-based sales business. Turns out, what I had prejudged as totally wrong for me, was the perfect solution to my complicated equation. It gives me the flexibility to maintain our mommy & me adventures, while I get to flex my atrophied mental muscles AND bring in a salary. It’s given me something else I realized I desperately needed, a community of like-minded women who are courageous, smart, inspiring and supportive of my journey no matter how many twists and turns it takes.
Here’s what I know for sure. I AM happier when I have something to focus on that inspires me outside of the incredible gift of our daughter. I AM a better mommy when I have balance. I DO love my job as her mommy and am so grateful to not have to miss a moment, but I’m glad I’ve found a way to have some moments of my own too.
Written by our guest blog partner, Jolynn Jaekel
Photo taken by Shauri Dewey