The End of Maternity Leave Feelings

maternity leave is overNo, I am not pregnant again. I just so happen to have a bazillion (slight exaggeration) mommas in my Facebook feed that are new moms and I have been seeing lots of posts about the stress of going back to work. It really brought me back to that time and the mixed feeling I had about leaving my tiny baby and heading back to get a paycheck. I was at a job I wasn’t happy with, but in spite of that I was happy to go back to work. I never had any doubts about it. I also didn’t have aspirations (or the financial security) to be a stay at home mom. I went back at 10 week post partum. I felt guilty about not being as upset about going back as I felt I should have been.

Getting back to work was a bit surprising to me. I loved the freedom to eat when I wanted, to shop on my lunch break without carting around the chubby one in his car seat. I also missed him way more than I thought I would. Like woah. It wasn’t unbearable though and the pumping I did 3x a day for the first 6 months actually made me feel better about being at work. However,  pumping in itself was a full time job, but I was doing this for him. The pumping was for him, working was for him. By working we could give him anything he wanted or needed. I appreciated my time with him SO much more than when I was home all day.

I had a bit of a stay at home mom experience when he was 18 mos old. I was laid off for 3 months and I got to really see what it was like. No matter how much you love working, there are moments when you wonder “what if??”. I was fortunate enough to be  given the opportunity to find out. There was a lot I loved so much, like getting to spend so much time with him, just him and I. It was fun and for the most part fulfilling. It was also exhausting and many nights I resented him for being so difficult and it’s never ending work as any SAHM will tell you. When I finally did go back to work it was a very different experience than when he had been an infant. I missed him a lot more, I rushed home everyday and really tried to spend every minute of my evenings and weekends with him. I know I need to work for both my sanity and the salary, but I still have the “what if” moments. I think as long as I am a working mom I will always think that just maybe the grass is greener??

So what’s my advice? Well going back to work may be awesome,or  it may really suck, and somedays it will fall somewhere in between. It may also take some time for you to figure out how to juggle your new role. Cut yourself some slack and know that most days your house won’t be spotless and you will wonder what you used to do with all your time, pre-kiddo. Take advantage of the alone time you get. If you bring your lunch everyday, try and budget to go out once every couple weeks to treat yourself, or better yet HAPPY HOUR.

Some tidbits from working moms about going back…

” I secretly enjoyed my 2, very quiet breaks, sitting in a bathroom, pumping, whole catching up on my US weekly mags. Although I should also mention that I think no mother should have to work until her baby is at least 1, it’s cruel!” - Megan, mom of 2 boys under 4 (teacher)

“I dreaded it but after a week was in love with being a working mom. I was just part time at first but it made me be more organized and I valued my time with the family more. It gave me good balance!” - Michelle, mom of 2 boys in elementary and pre-school.

” I love my job and the people I work with and for are VERY supportive. Isobelle loves her daycare and I enjoy the “breaks” at work. Plus it makes our family time together seem a little special. Although I must say pumping was a PAIN. If I do it again it will be hard to go back to pumping for me personally.” – Sara, mom of 1 baby girl – (works in finance)

“The anticipation was way, way worse than the reality. I ended up enjoying the uninterrupted coffee and my kid thrives in daycare.” – Brienne mom to 1 year old boy – (works in education)

” I literally thought I might die months 4-5 with Arden (my first). I was sooooo sleep deprived. I can vividly remember one morning waiting to start a mediation at 9 am in my conference room and I had been up since 4 am and was over-caffeinated. I didn’t know if I could do this whole working mom thing, I wanted to cry – and people who know me know I am not a crier. I was even working a modified part time schedule (10 am to 5 pm Mon-Thurs) and I felt like a loser/failure for feeling like I couldn’t do it all, and be a super mom and attorney at the same time.” – Amy, mom to 2 girls under 4… who is finally in her groove. (Attorney)

“Sadly it was harder to leave my daughter probably cause she was my first. After I had the twins (having 3 in diapers) I needed a frickin’ sanity job! It was nice to get out and have adult conversations, yet really looking forward to my time when home with my babies. Everyone is different…I needed a little me time, and my PT job was perfect for it. Plus the time they had in an amazing daycare setting got them that kid to kid interaction which I think is important in development.” – Brandy, mom to 3 kiddos all in elementry. (medical assistant)

“Working only became enjoyable after I was done breast feeding asking the time he was 1…. So much of the stress was lifted off of me. Modern day middle class work force made it really hard for Me to pump at work. I had way to many breast infections because of this. I wish our country would support working moms a little bit better.” – Becki, mom to a 1 year old son (bartender)

” I missed my boys, but was very happy to return to work. However, I am sure the transition was easier since I have a very supportive work environment. One misconception (at least for me) was “mother guilt.” In general, I don’t feel guilty for working, for me working outside of the home makes me a better mom. Of course I feel guilty if the boys are sick or I am out of town and miss something, but overall, being a working mom keeps me balanced.” – Amity, mom of 2 boys under 5.

Good luck! If you have any words of wisdom please share in the comments!

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