On May 25th, 2007, my career as a massage professional changed more than I ever could have imagined. When my husband handed me the most beautiful baby girl I had ever seen; my priorities and focus immediately shifted to a far greater, demanding, rewarding, and amazing job.
As for working during my pregnancy, I felt great for the most part. Those first few weeks of nausea :/ I eyed the sink in my room a lot and questioned whether I was going to need to make it there. However, after that was over I was able to work nearly a week past my due date. I was comfortable and had the energy and desire to continuing working. I had every intention on returning to work after my maternity leave, at least part-time. Foolishly, I figured I would find a day care provider for twenty hours a week and return to work with the same mindset and passion I had prior to my daughter’s birth.
Before my leave, a friend asked me to schedule a massage for her and her husband before their vacation. We knew it would be 4 weeks after the delivery, but figured I would be able to give two massages by then. When I went in for those two massages, something was definitely missing. It was my focus and presence; something I rarely had to work on in the past. I obviously was not ready, but I figured this was normal for all new moms. I was out of practice and in a couple months I would recapture my focus and get the rust out of my hands. After two more months past, I knew I still was not ready to return. My daughter made the decision even easier as she had decided that she was not going to take a bottle at all. Returning to work at that time would not have been fair to my clients, me, and especially my daughter. So, I stayed where I wanted to be and where I was needed.
I rarely scheduled massages for the next year. The couple massages I scheduled a week, at times, even seemed like too much. I instead took this time to read, learn, and research the field of massage. I grew in other ways as a massage professional. I launched my home business, Advanced Massage Techniques, which offers online massage continuing education courses. Finally, after a year, I felt I was ready to work a little more. My wonderful mom stepped in to look after my daughter in my absence. When I go to work, I know my daughter is taken care, her needs are being met, and there is a very good chance she is being spoiled. This makes my ability to focus on my clients much easier. I still find it difficult to leave my daughter for those 10 hours a week, but I value the time I am at work. I consider myself a stay-at-home mom with a mini career.
Before my daughter was born, I was able to be flexible, readily available, and easily present for my clients’ massage sessions. Once I returned to work, I wanted to be home more often with my daughter and my husband. I had to set better time boundaries, something I always struggled with previously. Most clients were also parents and we supportive of my new work schedule. For the clients I could not accommodate, there was little I could do but refer them to other qualified practitioners. I also have another person to alter my schedule. Luckily, Ava has been extremely healthy, and very happy. I still have to work harder to be present at each massage, but I have found ways to manage this problem. I believe I am a different, and hopefully better, practitioner today then before my daughter was born.
I know massage has made my daughter a calm, healthy, and happy child. Also,
I feel I am a calmer and more competent parent because of our massage sessions. I am happy my children will grow up in a home with filled with unconditional love and positive, healthy touch; which will benefit them throughout their lives. As I mentioned, I am adopting a little girl from China who is going to need a few surgeries to repair her cleft lip. I know my clients have already expressed their concern about my leave, but also they have expressed their support for my family. I have GREAT clients! This past year of paperwork has made me see that I need to work on my concentration again. As our travel nears, and my excitement and nervousness grow, I know I will have to work really hard to stay present. I know it is temporary and I CAN do it.
How has parenting affected your work? How do you balance your job as a parent and practitioner? How do you remain focused on each job?
Ivy Hultquist, Mom, LMT