Maternity leave is officially over for me as I had my first day back at work today. Well I say day, but I’m now working part-time so it was a little more than half a day actually. I have had so many mixed feelings about my return to work and the worst day was actually yesterday as I realised it was the last day I would have my little boy all to myself. I started getting the dread in my stomach and wondering if going back to work – even part-time – was somehow bad for the baby. I started wondering if I would make it to work on time after dropping the baby off and would I turn up at work looking like a mess? Well none of that bad stuff happened, at least today. I’m sure it will on many times in the future, but today I got myself together and got baby N dropped off on time so that’s a good start.
The nights are long, but the years are short. This is a popular saying that a friend told me earlier on when the nights felt ENDLESS. I now know what she means. I feel fortunate to have had these 6+ months with my small guy, but I also know that in plenty of other countries maternity leave is much longer and I will confess I feel very envious of this.
Where I live the maternity leave is four months and so I took a combination of annual leave and unpaid leave to top me up to a total of seven months off work. And you know what, it was the best decision I’ve made. Obviously I would be happy to have had 12 months or more with him, but given my situation it was a treat to have that extra time with him. At four months I was definitely NOT ready to go back to work and neither was he ready to be apart from me.
I’ve been working on getting him ready for the change for the past two months by taking him to his grandparents place where he is looked after by someone who is kind of his nanny. Apart from this giving me some much appreciated time to myself to go to the gym, have my hair done or do the grocery shopping child-free, it actually made today a whole lot easier. Rather than it being A Thing to drop the baby off, it was totally normal for him which meant I felt more relaxed too. I know when I leave him that he’s happy and being well cared for and that is very, very important!!
So off I went to work today and not knowing if I was going to have a good time or not. But I DID have a good time and it WAS good to be back with my colleagues. It certainly helps that I work with really nice people who value my contribution at work, but also I like my job. I think if I was missing any of those elements then today would have been so depressing and awful! My colleagues also gave me a little gift of some beautiful teas, some biscuits and a calendar with cats. I felt really special.
I was somewhat irritated that my colleague stole my desk chair (it was new) and thought I wouldn’t notice. OF COURSE I NOTICED! Let’s just say that it is now back in my possession…
At the end of my (short) working day it was such a thrill to leave the office and go and collect baby N. When I saw him he had just woken up from a nice long nap and he had the biggest smile ever for me which was beautiful.
If I could have more time at home with him would I? Yes, absolutely. But given my options I think today, my first day back at work was about as perfect as you could hope for.
Now to just get baby N to sleep a bit better tonight so I can catch up on some well needed beauty sleep!!