I had a baby in January of 2020. Blissfully unaware of what the entire world was about to experience. Completely naive to the burn out I was going to endure.
The isolation of being a new mom is hard to describe. Up at all hours, hardly able to distinguish day from night. I longed for sleep. I longed for normalcy. I longed to go back to work.
Becoming a mom was a very abstract concept for me. I lost my mom when I was in my early 20s and the thought of becoming a mom, without the support of my own mother, scared me. But the thought of losing or changing my identity scared me even more. Going back to work was the thing that was going to keep me “normal”.
The day I started back at work was the day public school systems around the country shut down and the email came from the daycare we had taken months to choose that they would not be opening until further notice. Forget toilet paper, I needed diapers, all sizes of diapers!
I was one of the lucky ones. I was able and already doing my job remotely and my boss was amazingly flexible, allowing me more time to figure out the haphazard childcare that ended up being our completely unreliable solution for nearly 18 months. I was also one of the lucky ones because my baby wasn’t school-aged. I didn’t have to figure out a way to work and educate her, and because she was home, I was able to see all of her firsts.
Despite the fact that I knew at that moment that I was one of the “lucky ones,” – my job didn’t get shut down and I got to spend more time with my baby – I still burnt out.
I became a statistic and contributed to the great resignation. I was able to make this choice, and not all people can do that. But finding what you can do to combat burnout is crucial. Had I not made this change when I did, my mental health would have continued to impact me and my family in irreverversable ways.
Being a new mom, facing a global pandemic and desiring a career change is a lot. I finally allowed myself to recognize this, stopped comparing myself to others, and focused on how it contributed to and limited my mental wellness. Burnout is real. It can happen to anyone. My hope is that others can identify the factors that contribute to their burnout and figure out ways to tackle them.