It's been two months since I've gone back to work after an eventful 16-month maternity leave. Before I had our son, I hadn't planned on taking an extended mat leave but shortly after he was born, I knew I needed more time. However, I also knew that at some point I would have to go back to work.
I wasn't too scared about going back to work. I knew I would miss S. a ton, and I knew it would be a big change in routine for our family. I worried about how S. would adjust to being with a babysitter all day, even though she was a close friend whom he knew well. But, I really enjoy my job. I consider many of my colleagues friends, and I missed them. And after 16 months with a baby, I was looking forward to something new. I was looking forward to doing something different with my brain and spending time with adults who would talk back to me when I talked to them.
I know not everyone feels this way. I have friends who wish mat leave could last forever; who wish being a stay at home mom was more realistic in the urban centre of Toronto. It made me really wonder, was I wrong for looking forward to going back to work? Did it mean I loved my son less? I don't think so. He is safe and happy with his caregiver, and I love picking him up everyday. When I get there, his favourite thing to do is to show me all of the toys he's been playing with that afternoon.
There are many aspects of maternity leave that I miss. I miss the quiet alone time that S. and I used to have so much of. I miss going for walks with him in the stroller, and I miss my mommy friends - the women who were so essential to me during that time with a new baby. Not that any of us knew what we were doing. It just felt so good to be in their company.
And if I'm being honest, what I really do miss is nap time! I'm used to a break in my day from 1-3pm to get some personal things done and refresh before round 2. I'd check emails and Facebook, read, make dinner, watch some Netflix, or even nap myself! That's not happening anymore.
But I know S. is building resilience and experiencing great things in his day. And when we are together in the evenings and on weekends, we are still a united family. And when I hear someone at work say to me "We missed you here." or "I'm so glad you're back.", I know that being there is an important piece of who I am as well.