Since I have mentioned it approximately 17 000 times, you are probably well aware of the fact that my maternity leave recently ended and I have returned back to work. The last weeks leading up to my re-entry into the workforce were a mixed bag of emotions; there were days that I counted myself crying on at least 5 separate occasions, and others where I was totally positive that things were actually going to be OK. With three days as a working mom safely under my belt, I’ve learned a few things already that have made me feel a little better about the transition.
1. Encouragement is Everything
I received so many calls, texts, and messages from my friends and family on the day I went back to work, and the days before and after it, too. There’s something really wonderful about having others both acknowledging the fact that you are facing a challenging transition and reminding you that you are not alone as you navigate through it. In the grand scheme of things, sure, going back to work is just one of the facts of life, but in the moment, it’s hard. Having people rooting for you helps, big time. My husband has also been amazing during (despite?) the many pity parties I have thrown for myself, and even surprised me with an awesome present when I got home from work on my second day. While gifts are not necessary for survival in the back-to-work grind, they are most certainly a welcome bonus (and highly encouraged).
2. It Takes a Village
During life’s big transitions, it’s incredibly important to surround yourself with people who are willing to help to make things go a little more smoothly. Even if you are miles away from your village, having people you can go to for advice and encouragement is crucial. For me, support in these days came in many forms. Strangers on the Internet offered words of advice on how to survive heading back in both the short and long-term. My best friend surprised me by sending us 4 days worth of freezer meals to remove the stress of having to decide what to make for supper on those extra exhausting days. My mom drove 3 hours to come babysit Beckett because our day home was closed on my first two days of work. Coming home to a happy baby who got to spend the day with his grandma and having dinner waiting on the stove made things a lot easier on me. It’s definitely these people who make me understand the meaning of #blessed.
3. Absence Makes the Heart Grow Fonder
Although changing my son’s poopy butt 5 times a day has become somewhat of a hobby of mine over the past 11 months, I have to admit that only being on diaper duty before and after work is somewhat of a treat. I feel like I have traded literal crap for the crap that one deals with as part of their job and I’m pretty OK with that. On a more serious note, coming through the front door and hearing Beckett call out “mamamama?!?!” before he sees me and greets me with a giant, open-mouthed kiss (the only kisses he currently knows how to give), is pretty amazing. Even though I’ve been totally exhausted, spending those few hours with him before he goes to bed is the new highlight of my day.
4. I Love My Job
I can’t even imagine how much the end of maternity leave would suck if I was returning to a job I didn’t like. I know that I’m incredibly fortunate to be returning to a career that I really do love. I have awesome co-workers, a great boss, and a teaching partner/friend who not only shares my deep appreciation for sarcasm, cats and Taylor Swift, but also my need for order and organization. In addition to that, I have another friend at work who is also returning to work post-maternity leave, so knowing that I can go to her to vent/cry/reminisce about the time that I accidentally called an infant named “Sarah” a boy at Baby Rhyme Time is very reassuring.
5. Kids Just Wanna Have Fun
Even though I know that my son thinks I’m hilarious and awesome, there are certain departments where I fall short when it comes to being the ideal playmate for him. Some examples of my flaws include (but are certainly not limited to) my distinct lack of enthusiasm for being poked in the eye and shoving foreign objects in my mouth. I have also been known to be quite the party pooper during a game of “find a dangerous object or obstacle and race to see if you can climb up it/launch yourself off of it before anyone notices and tries to stop you”. I am hoping that spending the hours of 8-3 in a day home with 5 new little friends might provide enough entertainment for B to convince him that there are many ways to pass the time that can be both enjoyable and non-life threatening.
6. Stop Living for the Weekends
While I loved the time that I was able to spend with Beckett on maternity leave, there were often days when I couldn’t wait for 5:00 to roll around so that Stu would be home and we could spend the evenings together as a family. Before I knew it, many 5:00s had come and gone and I was back to work. I know it probably sounds cheesy, but I want to stop only looking forward to what’s “next” and start living more in the moment. There are beautiful things in every part of every day if you take the time to look for them – whether you’re pushing papers at work or cleaning soggy Cheerios off the floor for the 28th time and contemplating spearing the smiling bee on the cereal box with your broom sword, they are there. I saw a quote that someone posted on Instagram today that echoed this sentiment perfectly. It said this:
“Never despise the mundane. Embrace it. Unwrap it like a gift. And be one of the rare few who look deeper than just the surface. See something more in the everyday. It’s there.”
– Lysa TerKeurst
So here’s to the many “everydays” to come. They may be hard, they may not all be exactly exhilarating, but each one is a gift. And you guys know how I feel about presents.