Well my two months of glorious maternity leave is coming to a close. I am desperately sad about having to go back to work but I also feel like God has been so gracious and kept it from feeling like it went by way too fast. I have enjoyed every second of my leave, even when our little girl has gotten too fussy for me to handle. Luckily God has also given us an extremely well-natured little girl and I can count on one hand how many times she has gotten “too fussy to handle” in these past two months.
I feel as though I am 8% ready to return to my responsibilities at work again, and 92% ready to never work again and stay with Olive all day, every day. I love my job and I love being able to help people, but I have found that I love being around to hear every squeak and coo from her so much more than I could ever imagined.
And truth be told, it has taken me about a month and a half to actually realize that she IS my daughter and I AM a mother now, but instinctively I’ve loved her every second and I don’t want to miss anything. I certainly don’t want to smother her and I have taken my breaks where my husband has lovingly helped relieve me of my mommy duties. But taking away forty hours of the week that I have been spending with her breaks my heart. She is way too much fun to be apart from!
Because of this, around a month into my leave I was having occasional small anxiety attacks about going back to work. I was frantically racking my brain on how I could become a stay at home mom. Around that time, I also received the book Bringing Up Bebe by Pamela Druckerman. This book chronicles an expatriate mother raising children in France. The book has really opened my eyes on the extreme differences in child rearing between Americans and French but also on the mentality of what it is like to be pregnant and a mother. Two striking differences in France for me was that maternity leave is paid (can you imagine?!) and children are quickly placed in day care after birth and in fact, positions in day care are wildly sought after. It is extremely rare that French women do not return to work and if they don’t return, they still take advantage of day care. There are many factors that contribute to both of these differences, but mainly they struck a chord with me because it makes me feel more at ease with having to return to work. The book was a great read, and I’m sure that I will address it more in the future.
Maybe in the future I will be able to reduce my hours at work or get rid of them completely, but for now I have to deal with this reality. We have hospital and bike bills to pay and I also would love to start saving for Olive’s future, so truthfully having a second income again will help to nurture her future and our present. The ability to be able to eat out at great restaurants and have some cushion is only going to enrich our lives so right now, it was feels right.
But that doesn’t completely eradicate my feelings of despair about having to be away from her. I want to be right next to her for all the firsts… the first laugh (she’s so close!!)… the first real tears… her first real word. Mostly I fear that when I get home I’ll feel like I have to do a million other things and not be able to just lay and talk with her, enjoying her company. I don’t want to be so tired and worn out that I don’t take the time to enjoy her. We have to re-learn a whole new system waking up, picking up and dropping off at grandma’s, figuring out a new sleep schedule and so on…
We’ll have to re-learn, but I pray that I don’t ever forget to sit and admire her…