Returning to work after an 18-month maternity leave was really challenging for me. There were a ton of emotional and practical adjustments to be made and I felt really overwhelmed by this major transition.
The guilt about leaving my son at daycare for 9 hours a day ate away at me, but after a few months, I managed to work through this and realized that my son was actually really happy and thriving at daycare and my life had a bit more balance. I retired my Lululemon uniform, bought some new work clothes, soaked in the professional stimulation my brain had been lacking and was able to re-assume my identity as a social worker.
I was now a working mother!
Fine-tuning our morning routine took some practice, but we had gotten it down to a science. Every minute was calculated. My goal was to be able to get out of the house, drop my son off at daycare and make it in to work on time in order to avoid my son having to stay at daycare even a minute longer than he had to at the end of the day. Although we had developed a routine, mornings felt crazy, chaotic, rushed and stressful.
Most mornings, I am able to cope with the hustle and bustle but lately, I have been feeling like a bit of a robot.
There are some days I would get to my desk and I could barely even remember the drive over to work. It’s as if I’m on automatic pilot, completely disengaged. These feelings have forced me to take an honest look at myself and I realized that I have become impatient and distracted. The drive to daycare involved me going over my mental to-do list rather than singing songs with son.
The other day was just one of “those” mornings…. I just could not get out of bed. I put the pillow over my head wishing I could sleep just a little longer. My husband got my son and brought him into our bed. What was he thinking?? We were 15 minutes behind schedule….we were deviating from the plan….we were going to be late!!! But when my son snuggled up against me and said, “mama, cuddle!!”, I allowed the pressure that fuels me every morning to take a backseat. As my husband and I lay in bed with my son, listening to him talk about anything and everything, a rush of happiness came over me. I wanted more moments like this. I felt engaged, I felt present, I felt wonderful.
I was a little late that day, but it really wasn’t the end of the world.
I am aware that every morning can’t be like this. The reality of a working mother inevitably involves chaos, rushing and losing one’s cool. But I’d really like to try and achieve some type of balance, to take a really deep breath, to pay more attention and to try and put things into perspective. My son is my number one priority, his well-being and happiness are behind almost every decision I make. But sometimes, this notion can get lost when you’re trying to do it all.