Tomorrow is my first day back at work after a 12-week maternity leave. "Are you excited?" everyone asks. No, not really. Throughout my pregnancy and even in the early days after Carter's birth, I definitely didn't think it would be this hard to return to work. I am so, so sad at the thought of leaving my little man tomorrow, even though he'll be with my husband all week and not even at daycare yet.
I love my job and my coworkers. I'm sure that once I'm back in the swing of things, I will remember this. I know that I am lucky to have had a 12-week fully paid maternity leave. I know that I am lucky to be able to go back to work on a reduced work schedule, with every Wednesday and Friday afternoon off, while still keeping my title and my benefits. I know that I'm lucky to have my boss agree to a change in my standard work hours so that I can go in early and leave early to spend more time with Carter in the evenings. I know that I'm lucky to even be in the financial position to consider working part time or, if I absolutely hate it, staying home full time. I know I'm lucky to ease back into work with my husband and mom watching the baby for the first 2 full weeks, so I don't have to deal with the emotions of taking him to daycare until the third week.
And, as a friend reminded me, no decision is permanent. Right now we've made the decision for me to return to work part time, but that decision doesn't have to be permanent. This decision is a lot easier to un-do than the decision to stay at home, since it would be difficult, if not impossible, to find another company, job, boss, and coworkers as great as the ones I have now, and part-time work is hard to come by in the professional world. It's easier to transition to working less (or not at all) than it is to return to work after choosing to stay at home.
I hope I remember all of these things tomorrow when I'm sad about not being at home with my baby. 12 weeks seemed like a long time before I had a baby, and now it seems like they breezed by and I don't know where they went. It's a small consolation that I feel like I made the most out of my maternity leave; I made a conscious effort to be present and engaged every time that Carter was awake - not to play on my phone or some other time-sucking activity when I could have been playing with him instead. We went on a long walk every single day that it wasn't raining. We played with toys, listened to music, sang songs, read books, and did lots of sitting on the patio at Starbucks watching people, dogs, and cars go by. I did not turn on the TV once during the day during maternity leave, nor did I manage to read a single book that wasn't baby-related. I'm glad that I can look back and feel like I did the best job I could during my time off work...but I would still love to tack on another 12 weeks at home.
Everyone says that the anticipation of going back to work is worse than the reality....I hope they're right.
Wish me luck!!