I’ve been trying to write this post all week, just knowing that it will bring up all of the tears and the messy emotions that I am feeling about returning to work after maternity leave. But I knew I had to write it, because there’s too many moms or soon-to-be moms out there who can relate, stick together, help or just talk about it.
I grew up with a stay at home mom. I used to look at her, when I was old enough to realize that she didn’t work, and pity her. She always made it seem like she missed out on something. She had me at 23, and never quite figured out what she wanted to do in life, and that made me feel deep sorrow for her. I always looked at her and told myself that will never be me, I want to BE SOMEONE and have a purpose in life other than being a mom.
The day that I met Hudson was by far the greatest day in my entire life. I know it’s cliche, and I know that every mom says it, but what other day really could come close? A work promotion? A stellar meal at a five star restaurant? The day you got your dog? I mean these are all great, but they can’t compare to meeting the tiny human that you created with your husband. It changed me at the fiber of my being. For the first 4.5 months I didn’t spend more than 5 hours apart from him to attend a wedding, and I knew EVERY tiny detail about him – when he pooped last, what kind of poop it was, if he made a new face, if he noticed his feet for the first time. Everything. But in our beautiful symbiotic relationship I always felt a tinge of sadness knowing that my time was limited, and that the simplicity of waking up and solely having to care for him would end. Everyone would always ask me, “How are you feeling about going back to work??” or “How much time do you have left?” and I would answer matter-of-factly, but thinking in the back of my mind that the day was far away still, or it wouldn’t actually ever come. I guess I was in denial.
At the one month mark I had a meltdown. I couldn’t shake the sadness. I googled “Does the end of maternity leave bring on Postpartum Depression?” and read all kinds of articles about women who felt the same way as me. Some quit. Some went back but just lived with the sadness.
Then my day came. On my last day of leave, I wanted to do something special or different, and make it the kind of day that you remember forever, but it ended up just being another day in the string of them. I paused in the morning for a few minutes in his room, and tried to freeze the feeling of having nothing on my mind but my baby, and I remember putting him to sleep because I cried while I fed him his bottle and placed him in his crib, knowing I’d maybe never ever feel so connected with him in our entire lives together. The next morning my “new life” began. I walked Hudson into his daycare room that I [guiltily] knew he would remain in all day, and I left him there with almost complete strangers. As I walked out tons of nice strangers smiled nicely at me as I cried and said ‘it gets easier with time.’ I replayed the song Blues Run the Game all day and cried more than I ever have in my life. Dropping him has gotten easier, but I still cry every day, and I still feel, at the core of my being, that leaving my baby is wrong.
I decided after 29 years that I no longer pity my mom, I envy her.