To the parent who just got off at 12-hour night-shift but has decided to get in some early morning cuddles before the rest of the family starts their day, I see you.

To the dad who is sacrificing just one more hour of sleep so he can give mom a break before leaving for another night, I see you.

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To the mom struggling to find childcare for her babies because their schedule doesn’t conform with the typical 9-5, I see you.

To the nurses, doctors, firefighters, and other professionals who spend their nights tending to the needs of other families while theirs are home snuggled up, I see you.

To the parents who must sacrifice holiday dinners, birthday parties, school plays, and other major events to make sure their families’ needs are met financially, I see you.

I may not see you in the early morning hours while you are working away and I am sleeping. I may not see you while you’re sleeping at 2 p.m. while I am out for an afternoon walk. And I may not see you because I am at Thanksgiving dinner while you are watching the clock, hoping to make it home in time to see your babies before they are off to bed. But, I see you. I see you, and I applaud you.

My father has worked shift work for as long as I can remember. Two days, two nights, four days off, and repeat. I never really heard him complain about it either. I remember him being upset about missing major events, but he still went to work every single day (or night) and got up to do it again. And he still does. After a quadruple bypass and numerous illnesses, he still gets up and goes to work while people are others are tucking themselves in for the night.

Now my husband and father to our baby girl is also a shift worker on a 28-day rotation. He doesn’t have every weekend off; sometimes his “Friday” falls on a Wednesday. And while it has truly been a blessing for me to have him home in the middle of the week while I’ve been on maternity leave, I feel for him.

Trying to sleep in the middle of the day with a baby in the house is no easy task.

Trying to divide his time between family, friends, chores, and personal goals is draining.

He wakes up early to make sure he has time with the baby before he goes to work and he stays up in the morning with her if she is awake when he gets home in the early hours of the morning.

The demands of parenthood are extensive in and of themselves. It is truly the hardest thing I have ever experienced. Shift work only adds another layer to the complexity of it. Sometimes I feel frustrated when having to take the baby to an event by myself. I often find myself planning an activity, only to realize I need to check my husband’s schedule first. It is much more difficult to plan me-time when it is not always guaranteed he will be home after supper for me to go out. While this is sometimes a struggle for me, I can only imagine what it feels like for those parents who are working these “abnormal” hours. To be unsure if you will be off work for your baby’s first Christmas, school play, soccer game, or whatever the event may be, must cause an uneasiness that I can only imagine.

So to the shift working parents, the ones awake at 2 p.m. and 2 a.m. The ones who have decided that their chosen career, no matter how difficult the schedule may be, is what is most beneficial to them and their family.

To the ones who wake up early and stay up late to provide for their families. I see you. I see you and I applaud you.

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Stephanie Lockhart

Young mama to a beautiful baby girl. Wife to the most amazing husband. Writing these stories/experiences in hopes of reaching mamas who are struggling to realize they are doing AMAZING.