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A Slow Decline From SuperMom Status

Dear Sugar
I am a working new mother who is trying to balance working and nursing my three and a half month old baby boy. Fortunately, I don't work far from home, so every few hours when my milk comes in, I am able to run home, nurse and then go back to work.

My employers are fine with this arrangement because I've proven my dedication to the job by returning after my maternity leave and jumping right back into my 80 hour work week. On the outside, I present a strong, put together front. On the inside I am falling apart burning the candle at both ends.

I work for a small newspaper in Santa Fe, NM and my overly ambitious publisher has unreasonable expectations of us. He is fully aware of his unrequited work ethic and strongly believes in survival of the fittest. But when you "graduate" from working for him for a couple of years, people have been known to qualify for fantastic dream jobs at some of the most renown papers in the country's such as the New York Times and The Washington Post.

Although I see the a pot of gold at the end of this rainbow, I just don't know how much longer I can keep up my energy and sharpness. Between the long hours, the stress of breaking news, deadlines, and my newborn, this pace is really beginning to take a toll on my well being.

I want to quit, but I just can't seem to bring myself to actually do it. I am learning a tremendous amount, and would greatly miss the people that I work with and have grown to love and value very much. I'd love to hear your thoughts. Tired and Torn Talullah

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Dear Tired and Torn Tallulah
You sound a little bit brainwashed. If your ultimate goal is to work at a big time newspaper, then go after your dream! You don't need this guy to help you get there.

Believe in yourself; you are not someone else's slave and if work is overloading you too much, you are only going to begin to fall apart. Just know that these huge papers in the big cities will most likely work you at a similar pace. Think long and hard about if that is what you really want. Choosing between motherhood and career success is often a difficult decision. But I do hear quite often, that life does get easier as your child gets older and gets on more of their own schedule.

Like with a husband or anyone you deal with in your adult life, you have to continuously negotiate and re-negotiate your boundaries. Those of us with parents who didn't respect boundaries often have a hard time doing this in our adult lives. Even those of us with perfect parents (apparently they do exist) have trouble saying no because it can often feel like your commitment to your job is being questioned.

If you decide not to quit, figure out what you are willing to do and what is too much for you. Talk to your employer about your feelings and see if you can come up with some kind of compromise or middle ground. If it's not OK with him for you to cut back a little then this is not the right job for you. Good Luck.

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