As the debate over paid family leave swirls around as a “hot topic” debate in our country, this seemed like the most appropriate time to share my personal experience with being a working professional, a new mom, and trying to find the balance of doing both all day, every day.
My name is Erica Crane and I’m on the board of the BASF Paralegal Section. I have been working in the legal field for over 15 years and am currently a Senior Litigation Paralegal at a FinTech company located in San Francisco. I am also a wife and new mom to a one-year-old little boy who is the light of my life.
I LOVE my son. I love him with every fiber of my being and soul. But I also LOVE being a paralegal and being a professional working woman. When my husband and I decided to have our son, it wasn’t a conversation about me not going back to work, it was a question of when. How much time would I be able to take? Was it realistic? Would I be as “on my game” and ready to tackle the legal world again after this life altering change? Then came an amazing opportunity that I couldn’t pass up! A new job, in a more senior role, with a company that supports and puts family above all else. A company that is so people first, that I knew I could have both.
I took 6 months of leave to bond with my son, to spend every moment of every day loving on him and supporting him, but also healing myself. I am incredibly lucky and grateful that I was able to have so much time with him. People tell you all the time when you’re getting ready to have a child how much your life is going to change. They fail to tell you the best ways to actually take care of yourself in the days and months following postpartum. It’s just assumed that you have your child, spend a few days recovering and you’re the same person. No. This is not reality. You spend lots of time wondering how you’re going to perform this super life-altering job of being a parent at the same time as performing your day job!
Then comes the first day back to work. I was scared, nervous, excited and completely overwhelmed. When I realized I was working for a company that sees me, really sees me, and seems to understand that maternity/paternity leave is not a break, but an acclimation period, and understands that that adjustment doesn’t just end because 12 weeks have passed, and I realized that balance is possible.
My day job is hard. It is filled with fire drills, deadlines, stress, and endless Zoom meetings, but it is also filled with so much support, laughter, understanding and space for growth. But my “mom job” is even harder. I am constantly thinking about my son. Did he eat enough today? Did he have fun? Did he learn something new? And most importantly, above all else, does he know that even though I’m no longer with him all day that I still love him?
It’s a constant balance. But I will say at the end of a long day, when I’m exhausted, hungry and tired, the smiles, kisses and cuddles from him make it all worth it.
Being a working mom is not for the faint of heart. There are days where I wish I could be with my son every second of every day. But then I realize I would never be my best self. My best self is found in the balance – in stimulating my personal and professional growth while being his biggest support and cheerleader. I am a better mom because I have something for myself. I have a space where I can thrive and shine, and a space that is just for me.
To all the working parents out there, I see you. I hear you. Sometimes it means missing a workout, not getting a full night’s sleep, or missing a social engagement, but in the words of my favorite author Glennon Doyle, “we can do hard things,” and being a working mom is a real hard thing – yet I wouldn’t trade it for anything in this world!
I should finish by saying I have the best support system behind me. I do not do this alone. My husband is the best person I know. He supports me and my choice to be a working parent and is with me every step of the way. I would not be as great if it weren’t for him. We also have a great community of family and friends that show up day in and day out. It really does take a village, and I am so incredibly humbled and grateful for mine.
Erica Crane is the Senior Paralegal for Chime Financial, Inc., a FinTech Company located in San Francisco, California.