Maternity leave is a funny thing. Your life is flipped upside down in the blink of an eye and then you get approximately three months to put it back together again before you go back to being a functional, contributing member of society. Never mind the fact that your hormones are on overdrive, you hardly sleep and you need to keep a tiny human alive all without losing your mind completely. No big deal, right?
Before I had my son, three months sounded like an awfully long time. I remember thinking that three months home with him would be plenty of time to figure out our new routine and life before I headed back to work. But in reality, three months passes in the blink of an eye. As my return to work date approached, I was overcome with sadness. Although we are fortunate to be able to keep our son home with family and avoid daycare, I still couldn’t bare the thought of leaving him for 12 hours at a time. I felt like we were JUST finally starting to get into a routine at home and then, BAM, time to go back to work. I wasn’t ready. I debated working part time. I thought about quitting my job all together. I cried a lot (I still cry a lot, damn hormones).
But, despite all the tears and wild thoughts running through my head, I knew what I needed to do. I needed to go back to work. I needed to do it for myself, for my son and for my family. Everyone is different and, being a stay-at-home mom is no easy task, but it just wasn’t for me and deep down, I knew that. Even in three months, I was slowly starting to loose myself. I spent too much time on the couch (the cold weather didn’t help), I couldn’t seem to bring myself to exercise again (I’m still working on this one) and I had way too much time for overthinking everything.
Don’t get my wrong, I LOVE being a Mom. It is the greatest gift I’ve ever been given. But I needed to be more than just “Mom.” I needed to be a physician assistant and use my brain again. I needed to be a friend and socialize again. I needed to be a wife again and remember my husband is also going through this journey. One day my Mom told me, “returning to work will make you a better Mom.” I couldn’t understand it at the time but I trusted her and clung to this idea. And, naturally, she was right.
Leaving my son is never easy and I think about and miss him constantly, but I’m so glad to be back to work. Today marks one month since I’ve returned and I already notice a difference. I feel as though I have more to offer my son, both physically and mentally. It makes me proud to be able to set a good example for him by working hard and sacrificing. I am more intentionally with our time together and it feels more special now. Sometimes, it takes leaving for awhile to really appreciate what you have at home.
Life and choices and right decisions will look different for everyone and their families. Returning to work after having a baby is not for everyone and, I truly admire stay-at-home Moms because I could never do it! But, for me, working again has made me a better Mom in many ways and was the first step in finding my sense of normalcy again.