So here I am. I have been back in the “day job” (after almost ten and a half months off on maternity leave) for four weeks now. It has been a rollercoaster of emotions so far, although I must say I could do with a few more happy moments…
Week One flew by. I started on the Tuesday morning incredibly apprehensive, unsure of how I was going to react once I got into my office (if I could actually get into my office… could I remember the door code?) As my bus approached my workplace I felt tears prick in my eyes:
This was it.
The end of maternity leave.
The end of my baby being a tiny baby who relies on me for everything.
That chapter is over.
A new chapter is about to unfold; I’m a working mum.
Are you sure I can’t rewind time?
The rest of the day was a blur filled with smiles, hellos and welcome backs. Surprisingly no one cracked any weight loss jokes… oh and I had a KitKat waiting for me on my desk! I even managed to remember all my passwords and the door codes. It’s a miracle!
As I left to catch my bus on the Wednesday evening I felt quite elated; I’d completed my first week back in the office. I hadn’t cried! And most people seemed happy to have me back. A warm glow of appreciation comforted me on my bus ride home, and I found myself smiling in the knowledge that I get to spend the next five days with my beautiful daughter.
Week Two is an altogether different story. I flounced into work on the Tuesday; looking forward to a bit of alone time. I then realised that the previous week had lulled me into a false sense of security; I’m here for the foreseeable future.
Get me out of here. Please someone get me out of here.
I spent most of week two very close to tears. I was angry and frustrated: I don’t want to be here. I want to be at home with my baby.
Reality well and truly hit. I was very thankful when 6pm on Wednesday arrived and greatly glugged the large gin waiting for me at home.
Week Three swiftly appears out of nowhere. Dreading what the week may hold, I haul myself out of bed and begrudgingly get dressed for work. The two days are better, but I’m still not happy. (Understatement).
The hardest thing about week three happened on Thursday. Nick passed Busby over to me after a goodbye cuddle and headed to work. She cried when she was passed over. My heart shattered into a thousand pieces. She has never cried being “left” with me before. Never. I found myself sobbing; irrationally cursing feminism and railing-chaining-women.
Week Four has just been and gone and I feel like I’ve reached an understanding of where I am. It has been a frustrating week – especially with public transport, as the homeward journey has taken over an hour on both working days, resulting in swift cuddles with Busby before she is whisked off to bed as her eyes cannot stay open much longer. But I’ve been thinking.
Dangerous, I know.
I’ve come to the conclusion that I don’t think I’d mind leaving Busby and working 10 hour shifts so much if I was in a role that I found emotionally and intellectually fulfilling. My priorities have shifted completely and I need to be doing something I want to be doing, something that almost justifies leaving my baby for the day. I don’t think, in my heart, anything will ever fully justify leaving her, but if I was doing something I really loved then I’d appreciate our time apart more. Yes my job is financially fulfilling and I’ve worked hard to get to where I am, but I’ve lost my passion and drive for it.
Other women in my workplace have reassured me that I’ll get used to it, but is it so wrong that I don’t want to “get used to it”? I don’t want to settle. Becoming a Mother, utilising my maternity leave in the way I have, has just made me more determined to be my best. I don’t think that’s a bad thing.