My last day of maternity leave

Well, this is it. Today I can say, I am going to work tomorrow. Wow. That really sucks to say. 😦

I was going to write this post throughout the day. Do little paragraphs about what I was doing. But the day is already over and I didn’t write anything. My last day with my daughter is done. Tomorrow morning I will officially be a working mom.

I know I might seem melodramatic with all of this woe-is-me, returning to work = armageddon, but really, this feels like a very big, life altering transition for me. I feel like when I was TTC I was waiting (and waiting, and waiting) to get pregnant. And when I was pregnant I was waiting to have my baby. And when I was on maternity leave I was waiting to go back to work. And now I’m going back to work and this is it. This is the end of the road. There are no more transition periods, I have arrived at my destination. When I start back at work I will be officially starting my new life. My new life as a working mother.

And being a working mother seems so much more complicated than being a stay at home mom. (I don’t know if I get to call myself that, as I was only home on maternity leave, but after almost six months at home, it felt like I was for a bit). I was already floundering quite a bit wearing all the hats required of me when I stayed home with Isa. At home I was a mother to my daughter, a partner to my spouse, a daughter to my parents, a friend to my friends, and a graduate student to my program. Now I have to add three more very time consuming roles to my life. Now I am all of those things but I’m also a teacher to my students, an employee to my principal and an employer to my SIL (who is taking care of Isa). The only hat I will soon be able to let go of is that of graduate student, and while that is a very heavy hat indeed, one that fell into my eyes and hurt my head, the three new hats I need to accommodate feel like that will quickly take the place, and then some, of my burdensome graduate school hat.

Okay, this hat metaphor is tired but I hope I made my point. I just feel overwhelmed by how many people will be depending on me and how screwed I (they) would be if I (shock! horror!) were sick or just generally not up to all that responsibility. I feel like my the lives of so many people are riding on my shoulders and that is an incredible amount of pressure. I mean, I’m just one woman – how can I possibly juggle all these roles and responsibilities? It’s nerve wracking.

Today my daughter seemed out of sorts. She didn’t chat as much, didn’t laugh as easily. By the end of the day she was a wreck. I wonder if she knows, if she can sense my reluctance. I wonder if she’s feeling as ambivalent about this change as I am, even though there is no way she could know of it’s imminent inevitability. My poor baby girl. I know this is going to be hard on her. But I also know it will be harder on me.

I’m in the middle of three loads of laundry. I’m stripping my cloth diapers. I wrote Isa’s schedule down and then I wrote another one for when the first one isn’t applicable. I posted a page for where all the cloth diapers and their trimmings go above the changing table. I went to Old Na.vy and stocked up on 6-12 month long sleeved onsies and warm pants for my little girl. My mom is bringing my lunch to school tomorrow (thanks mom!) and I have my bag packed, with shiny new supplies fresh from Office.Depot. My pump is already in my room, ready for a session tonight and then ready for its first real day on the job. I proof-read my entire 65 page paper and feel confident about turning the rough draft in today. I guess I’m as ready as I’ll ever be to start my new life tomorrow. My new life as a working mom. I don’t really have much choice about whether I get to take the path of the working mom or the stay at home mom, so I hope I don’t mind this path too much. I guess I’ll never know until I take my first step…

And besides, it’s still the path of a mother, and that is all I’ve ever wanted to be. I need to keep reminding myself of how lucky I am to have this be such a difficult day. I truly am blessed to be walking down any path through motherhood, and I am forever grateful.

 

4 responses

  1. hope your first day back is painless. I am sure your students missed you!!
    If I am being honest wiht you, working was *almost* easier for me than staying home is right now, I felt more freedom to let things slide, now that I am home – I feel like everything needs to be done. NOW!!

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