Every Mom (or Dad) who has taken Maternity/Paternity leave is faced with the notion of going back to work. Sometimes there is no choice, financially they have to (which was our case) but at some point most wonder “Should I or my partner stay home to raise our child/ren?”
*DISCLAIMER* OBVI I have done no research on this and could be completely making it up, but from all the parents I’ve talked to, this is the thought process they have gone through at one point or another. Don’t ask me where my stats are because I have none.
Ok, SO…the age old question. Return to work or stay home? Growing up I always thought I would be a stay at home mom (or in internet speak SAHM). I loved helping raise my sister, I loved the idea of being there for my kids every day and making home-cooked meals, making crafts, building forts and spending every single moment with them.
Then we had O.
As I mentioned before, I struggled with PPD and PPA after O came into our lives. It was a very hard time for me and for the first 3 months, I LONGED to return to work. I didn’t want to be stuck at home, boobs leaking, shirts covered in vomit and brain that had become complete mush.
Once we got through the first 3 months though, I started to relax a bit into motherhood. Most days were really good, but I often found myself feeling restless. O and I went out and did lots of different things. I made sure to keep busy and we had an activity planned almost every day of the week. It was the only way I felt human.
Days turned into weeks, weeks into months and then it was time to think about going back to work. All of a sudden, I was terrified. How could I leave my sweet little boy in the hands of a stranger 3 days a week? Was he going to forget about me? Were we going to lose our bond? Would I hate work? Would I even remember HOW to work?
That being said, I still felt restless and I knew in my heart I was ready to go back to work. I was plagued with guilt for feeling this way and that’s probably what made me most anxious about returning. Being a Mom is weird.
The night before I went back, I had a very restless sleep. Sure, being a SAHM wasn’t my favourite thing, but it had become routine and safe. Returning to work was a whole other ballgame. A year is a long time.
I dropped O off the next day at daycare and immediately I felt a bit of relief. I turned on the most recent episode of my favourite podcast “Death, Sex & Money” (check it out, it’s the tits) and got myself a coffee. I felt GOOD. Even better, our daycare provider texted me a picture of Oliver smiling and having a great time. AMAZING.
When I got to work, I spent most of the day catching up with coworkers (there was a lot of “No, you’re right, I AM pregnant again!”) bathroom breaks on my own, hot coffee, lunch with two hands and starting to dig in to a couple projects. I left work at 5, missing Oliver like crazy. I got home and found I was feeling at ease. Tired but at ease. J had already fed him dinner, made dinner for us and we sat at the table as a family.
I started to talk to more and more Moms who had also made the choice to return to work and while we all missed our littles, we were happy to be at work. The guilt started to subside and I started to relax into our new groove.
Don’t get me wrong. Some days are really hard. I’m tired, traffic is a bitch, O is sometimes super tired and fussy by the time I get home and all I want to do is collapse. But even when I was home with him I had days like that. I find now, I appreciate and cherish the time I have with him SO much more than I did before.
I also really miss my playdates with some amazing Momma’s. Those ladies got me through the hard times. It’s definitely more of a challenge to see them now and managing friendships has become harder, but that’s a story for another time.
So turns out, I’m a happier, better, more fulfilled Mom now that I’m back to work. During the day I get to interact with adults and use my brain in a different way. On the way home, even thought I’m sitting in traffic, I get to listen to the news, my podcasts and music. I get to have some alone time. And sure, it’s still the early days. I’ve only been back for a short period, so I’m sure things could change and maybe I’ll feel differently in a few months, but for know, I’m happy to be back to work.