Ever since having L, I associate different times of the year with my pregnancy or with the different stages of her first year. This time of year marks my final days of maternity leave and my preparations to return to work. It was, undoubtedly, one of the hardest things I’ve had to do in my life. I still remember the dark cloud that hung over me in those final weeks of leave. I looked at my tiny little peanut who was changing by the minute, and knew, with overwhelming sadness, that I would be missing so much by returning to work.
Whether watching her play happily on her playmat or quietly holding her, memorizing her face, there was always, always the backdrop of sadness.
With tears streaming down my face, I thought, 10 weeks is not enough. It’s not even close to being enough.
Fortunately, JD was able to stay home with her during the first 4 weeks I was back at work. It made the transition infinitely easier, but when I think back on those 10 weeks I had at home with her, I feel almost like I’m grieving something that I can’t ever have back.
The first few months back at work were hard. I wanted to walk out the door and quit nearly every day, not because of work itself, but because it seemed dumb to be spending so many hours away from L instead of cherishing every second of watching her grow. I gazed out the window and saw women with jogging strollers enjoying the morning sun. I envied them. I hated them. I browsed real estate sites for houses out in the country, scheming for ways we could live off one income.
But, in time, that morning daycare dropoff became routine and I found my stride at work again. I’m thankful to have a good job, especially when so many others out there are struggling. I’m glad to have something that stimulates me, and I know that the time outside of the house spending time with other caregivers and kiddos is actually really good for L.
I still get a pang of jealousy when I watch a mom leisurely strolling down the street, or when a friend posts pics from a museum or a playground on a weekday, but I know in my heart, that is not my path, even if I will forever have mixed feelings about it.
I’m a working mom. I love it. I hate it. I do it because I truly believe it’s the best decision I could have made for my family.