Today is the first day back to work. Maternity leave is officially over.
I didn’t expect my heart to break the way it has.
To be honest, when I was still pregnant, I thought that when it came time for me to go back to work, I’d feel a slight sense of relief. I’ve worked for-pretty-much-ever, it’s part of my routine and my identity. I’m good at what I do, I know what to expect, what to look for. I can be counted on at work. I like the people I work with. I like healthcare. I like my job. I expected to miss it (I did), I expected to still like it after Scout (I did), I expected to be ready to return when the time came.
I’m not. I don’t want to leave her.
Maybe it sounds silly, but all of the things I listed above, all the things I like about my lawyer/healthcare job? I like those same things about being a mom.
It has become part of my routine and my identity. I think I’ve gotten good at it (but you’d have to ask Scout). I know what to expect, what to look for. I can be counted on. I like the people I work with (well, Scout and Dale and Louie). I like the subject matter.
And so for the same reasons I felt a tinge of sadness leaving my paying job for maternity leave, I feel an overwhelming pain leaving my mom job for healthcare. I’ve become the person that doesn’t want anyone else taking care of my kid. I know her, I know what she needs, and I want to be the one to tend to them. Where, then, does that leave me now?
Maybe the silveriest of linings in this entire pandemic is that my corporate job has not returned to the office. We still have at least another two weeks of working remote, and I’d be surprised if we didn’t extend that out longer. I get to stay with my little girl for a little while longer, and that in itself has put my heart at ease some. Instead of so starkly making the transition from home to work, I can take some baby steps. I’m so, so fortunate to work for a company and within a group that gives me great leeway with how I do my job and allocate my budget. I’m able to keep on the people who were handling my tasks for another week as I come back, so that I’m not overwhelmed all at once.
Plus, I have a reason to put on makeup (for Zoom meetings) and hard pants (just because, but we’ll see how long that lasts).
*I felt like we were taking a back to school picture!
Maybe at some point I’ll look forward to moving my job back into the office — a sense of normalcy, maybe? — but for now, looking at my daughter asleep, rocking in her swing beside me, I think my new normal is worth savoring. I love this new life, and I’m excited to start the process of letting the new me meet the old me.