After four wonderful months at home, my maternity leave comes to an end next week. I can truly say that through all of the tears, mine and the kids, I've enjoyed just about every minute of my leave, especially the freedom to focus all of my attention on my family. Adjusting to life with two kids was challenging at times, but the positives of being home with my girls greatly outweighed the negatives. As the saying goes, all good things must come to an end, and I'm not sure who's more anxious about my return to work, me, my husband, or our three-year-old!
For 19 glorious work-free weeks, my number one priority was our family without any distractions from the working world. The stress of juggling both kids and work was eliminated, and it felt really good, almost peaceful and certainly refreshing. As much as I do love being a working mother and know it's what's best for me, it made me stop and wonder, Is being a working mom really better for our family? I was able to schedule playdates, take the girls to the library and museums, and still make dinner. We had tea parties, made crafts, spent afternoons at the park, and visited family and friends. It sounds perfect and for the most part, it was, but with my return date looming, I began to question what really is best for me and for my family.
It's hard to take money out of the equation when you're discussing employment versus unemployment, but looking beyond the financial piece of the puzzle (and how much I enjoyed my maternity leave), I've realized that work for me is a freedom that I crave and need in order to be a better mother. My day job certainly doesn't define who I am, but it gives me a different focus outside of diapers and ABCs. I'm also very fortunate to have found a job where I have significant flexibility and the ability to work from home. I can feed a baby and type an email while on a conference call. How lucky am I?! My toddler has loved having me around every day, but I've noticed us butting heads more frequently. She's also become more dependent on me. I've felt more guilt not playing with her every minute of the day than when I'm at work and dedicate more quality time to my kids, taking advantage of every non-working minute that I have with them.
The challenges and fears of returning to work are nothing to ignore. My husband and I will once again be comparing schedules and coordinating pick-ups. We'll be pulled in a hundred different directions while trying to find a few free minutes a day for each other. I'll have two kids to care for along with a full-time job so that alone is going to be a big adjustment. With time, patience, and a supportive husband by my side, I know it will all come together. Just like adding a new person to our family, we will adjust. I look forward to having a few quiet moments to myself at work, as silly as that sounds, and I already look forward to hugging my babies at the end of each busy day. A mom's life is a juggling act…wish me luck on keeping most of my balls in the air.
How did you make the decision to either leave or return to work after having a baby?