Other moms had warned me “it goes by so quickly!” And though I believed them, I planned on using every single day to the fullest. I’d be productive on my maternity leave, enjoy visits from friends, luxuriate, dote on my family… you know, the works.
In the beginning, I stayed in bed a lot during the day. Maya was getting up every two hours at night and though Yahve was always available and willing, I did most the night feedings because he had to go to work in the AM and I didn’t, so I make it a point to let him sleep. I watched all the shows – Wendy, Rachel, The View, The Real, Dr. Oz, Page 6, that day time talk show on E, Ellen…. I cozied with Maya, watched and dozed. But soon Maya would start to sleep for longer periods of time and I was more rested so I started using the time to clean, organize and purge. It was cold out and I had no desire to brave the elements. At one point, I think Yahve was worried about me because I hadn’t left the house in two weeks (thanks Amazon).
And of course, I spent so so so much time simply staring at Maya. Talking to her (in french). Taking photos of her. Taking photos of her stuff and of her with her stuff. But I don’t even need to tell you guys this part because you saw the photos (well a fraction of them) on Instagram and Facebook.
Half way through my 14 weeks off, I thought to myself. This is going by at a decent pace. I am enjoying my time at home and getting a lot done. Well, from then on, time went by at hyper speed. I blinked and I was planning my outfit for my first day back to work. Which brings me to… the big day.
The last month of my mat leave felt like one big countdown clock to having to leave Maya. Yahve and I had found a daycare that we trusted (where 3 of Maya’s cousins go) so that huge weight was lifted off of our shoulders. I had 30 days to mentally prepare to leave this tiny human everyday for about 12 hours. I couldn’t even wrap my brain around it.
I called Yahve’s cousin who has a 4 year old son for advice. I was crying before she even picked up the phone. “Tracy, I don’t know if I can do this,” I started off. “I am going to be a disaster!” With no fanfare or hesitation she said, “Yeah, pretty much.” From there, we had an hour long come-to-Jesus conversation about her experience going back to work and what I could expect and most importantly, what I could do to make my transition back to work as smooth as possible.
I got some really great advice from Tracy and a few other moms and it helped me so much I can’t keep it to myself.
Don’t let her first day of daycare be my first day back in the office. This is definitely the single most important piece of advice I got (thanks Tracy).
This allowed me to experience this would allow me a few things:
- Dropping Maya off for shorter amounts of time while I get accustomed to being away from her
- Visiting her during the day when I miss her
- Learning what to pack for her each day
- Practicing my new morning routine
Remember the “whys.”
I wrote down my reasons why. Why my career is important to me. Why I work hard. Why I dedicate time to learning and sharpening my skills. This got me really excited. It reminded my how invested I am in my career and how much I enjoy what I do. And now, I was a mom so Maya is now on my list of whys.
Take a piece of home with you.
You can decide what this means to you. For me this meant taking a design element from Maya’s nursery and using it as inspiration for my manicure (as shown in the photo above).
Stay busy the day before.
The day before I went back to work I was really busy running around getting myself ready. I almost didn’t do this on purpose but I didn’t physically pick Maya up all day. My mom and Yahve did all the feedings and changings. This had more of an impact than I thought. What I really wanted to do was cuddle Maya as tightly as possible until it was time for me to get ready for work in the morning but that would have made it insanely difficult.
The morning of my first day back I got up and started to get ready. Before I knew it, it was time for me to leave the house. I kissed Yahve and Maya and hit the road.
I thought the tears would come as I walked to the train, but they didn’t. I felt like my heart was exploding open. I felt excited. I felt proud of myself. I felt inspired by the dozens and dozens of women I knew who were balancing career, marriage, kids and self. Was it an easy day? No, but I felt prepared and I was really thankful that I’d given myself so much time to process, feel all the feels and get accustomed to the idea of being a working mom. It also helps that I work at a company that places lots of emphasis on supporting parents (moms and dads. Yay Golin!) as they transition back to work.
Everyday I am grateful for a job that challenges me and now I am even more grateful to come home to Maya’s grins, gurgles and giggles.
Did you do anything that helped you ease back into work after maternity leave?