Looking back on ten months of maternity leave
So. This is it. This time next week, I’ll be back in the office.*
I tried to find an image to summarise how I feel at the end of my maternity leave and I think this one does it best. It’s been a massive blur. In the early days, the lack of sleep made me feel like I was losing my mind, and now it just feels as though every day is over before I know it. The old adage ‘the days are long but the years are short’ is so, so true. I really can’t believe it’s coming to a close already.
I have such mixed feelings about going back to work. On the one hand, I am really excited. My job is pretty awesome, and I’ve really missed it while I’ve been away. I know that it’s stressful, and busy, and there are never enough hours in the day to get everything done (and there will be even fewer now that I’m only going to be there three days a week), but I feel super motivated, especially after my boss was able to negotiate on my behalf and get the company to sign off my part-time hours.
But on the other hand, a) I’m a bit concerned that my brain is going to need some adjusting to get back up to speed and b) I have ALL THE FEELS about leaving Theo for those days.
Someone once told me that maternity leave didn’t have to be fun. The government is not paying for you to have fun. You have the time off to raise your child. You are still working, it’s just that you’ve swapped one job for another. And I definitely think that is true. Motherhood is hard work! You spend your life in a state of constant anxiety. There are endless battles over naps. They need almost constant feeding. They cry for no discernible reason. They get really weird and distressing illnesses. You’re tired? Too bad! Your baby needs you all. the. time.
But. The thing is… it is also really fun. It wasn’t always. The first couple of months were a massive learning process. Theo was amazing, and I spent hours staring at him, hardly able to believe he was really there, but to be honest, he didn’t really give a lot back. But every day, even the hardest days, just get better and better. Theo is so freaking amazing. He’s so much fun to be around. He makes me actually belly laugh multiple times a day. He blows raspberries and likes to hide and play peekaboo. He loves being tickled. He’ll walk around for ten minutes clutching a sock in each hand like they’re the best toys ever. I just love hanging out with him. He’s also SO active, it blows my mind. He started crawling pretty early, and now he’s going to be 10 months old next week and has already started to walk across the living room. It’s exciting, and I’m so proud of him, and I know he’s just changing so much every day. It’s going to be a big adjustment to miss the little things he does. I won’t be picking him up from nursery, so I’ll be hearing third hand about anything he got up to during the day. That’s going to be hard.
So that’s where I’m at right now. Really excited about being a working woman again, and having colleagues and interesting meetings and conversations about things that are not related to children whatsoever. But also so sad. Theo’s not well at the minute, and yesterday he wouldn’t nap unless I held him. So I sat in his room and held him in my arms and just felt so, so emotional that this stage in our lives together is over. I know that things are only going to get better as he gets older, but we’ll never spend as much time together as we have over this past ten months. It’s been an incredibly special time. I just wish it could have gone a little bit slower.
If you’ve had a baby, how did you adjust with going back to work? I’m a bit worried I may end up having a cry in the loos during the first week looking through photos on my phone…
*Unless I have chicken pox. Theo’s covered in spots, and I’ve never had it, so there’s a chance he’ll be at nursery and I’ll be wearing oven gloves to stop myself from scratching, instead of being back at work. But hopefully that’s not going to happen!