In just over three weeks, I'll be back at work after a year-long maternity leave. 54 weeks, actually, if you want to get technical about it.
I'm not sure how I feel about going back to work this time. I'm mostly looking forward to it, I think. I'm ready for the routine and the stimulation and the challenge. I'm ready to have a cup of tea without having to jump up to get someone more breakfast or change the channel or stop my five-year-old from doing a header off the couch and landing on the baby.
There are lots of things I'm not looking forward to, like a 45-minute commute each way and traffic and the gong show that is a weekday morning after a big snowfall. I'm not looking forward to boring meetings (there are sure to be a few) or annoying co-workers (every workplace has them). And I'm not looking forward to the working mom's juggling act. But I'm mostly over my feelings of dread about those things. They are what they are. A long commute is a good opportunity to listen to podcasts. A big snowfall is pretty and an excuse for a hot chocolate. And traffic is character-building. (Right?!)
Those things (admittedly first-world problems) aren't bothering me too much anymore but I am having to push down the feeling of rising panic that threatens to take over every once in a while. The source? Leaving Ethan.
By this point in my mat leave with Connor, I had long been ready to go back to work and leave him in my husband's care during the day. Thanks to a bout of untreated postpartum depression, my first mat leave was really difficult and I could barely get out the door fast enough my first day back. But this time has been different. Ethan is the most mellow kid. He's happy. He loves to dance and he gives great, big, slobbery kisses. If I bounce him on my knee he laughs like it's the funniest thing anyone has ever done EVER. I'm going to miss being around him during the day.
And it's not just Ethan, of course. Overall this last year has been pretty great. Ethan has been an easy baby and it's been the sort of new-mom experience I so desperately wanted, but it was also Connor's last year before being in school (kindergarten is only half days, but still). Rich (the stay-at-home dad) has been around, so we've done lots of things as a family.
But all that is changing this fall anyway. Ethan is almost not a baby anymore (sniff) and Connor has started kindergarten, so my role as mom while at home already isn't to be the same. Instead of mourning the loss of that family time, I'm focusing on what's next. In my world, change is good. New goals are exciting. And the chance to do something for myself is something I want to fully take advantage of.
So here's what I'm going to do:
I'm going to do lunch-hour yoga classes.
I'm going to take advantage of the gym in my building.
I'm going to try to limit meetings and focus on accomplishing the things my team wants to accomplish.
When I can, I'm going to hold meetings at Starbucks on the ground floor.
I'm going to listen to podcasts while I drive. (Any suggestions for good ones?)
I'm going to watch the sun rise over the mountains and glint off the snow.
I'm going to wear clothes that are less childcare-casual and more corporate-casual.
I'm going to rock my new boots.
I'm going to do as much as I can to enjoy those ten hours I'm away from my family and then come home and play Lego with Connor and practice words with Ethan and talk to Rich about how their day was.
I'm going to find my bliss.
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