Panic is setting in

I still have six weeks until I go back to work after a year long maternity leave. Already I feel the panic setting in. Months ago, if you had asked me, I would have said that I was so ready to go back. That was then. Now as I stare down D-day I, of course, no longer feel the same. The precious moments with my family feel fleeting as I stand on the cusp of another big change. I don’t do well with change, even change that I can anticipate and plan for.

I felt much the same after my first maternity leave. I was afraid to leave my little boy and anxious about managing the day-to-day struggle that is the life of a commuter family. (My husband and I together spend more than 20 hours a week driving) The first time I went back to a new position, a part time position. The prospect of only three days a week away from my son seemed reasonable. I still had two days a week with him all to myself. The best of both worlds in many ways. Over the months, I slowly eased my way back into a five-day work week. The transition was smooth, my son flourished in care and we all did well.

This time I’m going back to a position that I started only a few short months before my leave. I’ll be working full-time and though I would say I had a break, it was one filled with work responsibilities as I helped to keep projects moving along for a department in flux. I’ve been away, but I haven’t really. In some ways that will make my transition back to work easier, in others it means I go back feeling like I never left.

But more than the work stress, there is the stress of leaving my second beautiful baby boy. I know he’ll do fine, he’ll have his big brother with him. I also have a tremendous caregiver who loves my children as if they were her own. Often I have felt she does a better job than I do. I will go back to work secure in the knowledge that my children are really cared for. Though that makes it easier, it is far from erasing the guilt I feel that my second son won’t get that extra time with me that my oldest did. I also feel guilt that this time around when we are together my attentions will always be divided between the two. Already I mourn our special time. It will never be the same again.

I choose to work outside of the home for many reasons. I enjoy a particular lifestyle, I want my children to enjoy it too. We have a beautiful home made with love, but not sustainable on one income. I need the challenge and learning that comes from a stimulating workplace. I want my children to grow up feeling loved and cherished by family, but also with the skills to be independent and confident. I believe child care helps them to be well-rounded individuals. Though some of the circumstances cause me to feel guilt, I do not feel guilt that I work outside of the home and leave my children with another person. She loves them, so why should I? I am not so foolish to believe that I am the only one who can give them the love they need. I believe that it takes a village to raise children and that children do better when there are many loving adults in their life.

So why is it so hard? It’s simple, I love them, with every fibre of my being. As much as it is important to me and helps me to achieve the goals I have for my family and me, I don’t relish leaving them. If there was a better balance to be had, perhaps I would take it. For the moment this is how it has to be for our family. For the moment I must forget that I have only this short time left and focus on enjoying them every moment I’m with them.

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9 thoughts on “Panic is setting in

  1. kgirl says:

    Aww, good luck. For me, it was harder to go back the second time. Partly because, until my husband lost his job and went freelance 8 months in to my mat leave, I thought I would be staying home, and partly because, well, there's two of them. Double the worry/guilt/stress. Of course, like everything, it does get easier, and although I too am safe in the knowledge that they are being very well cared for by our nanny + wah dad, that feeling in the pit of your stomach? It's still in mine, a year later. To end on a positive note, it's amazing how much I do indeed appreciate being able to sit at my desk and drink my coffee while it's still hot.

  2. cabadov says:

    Oh I feel your pain. I remember how hard it was returning to work when my first was born. I went back full-time since I couldn't swing a part-time gig. It was hard but I adjusted.You're right, I think it gets harder when you have a second or a third. I was fortunate enough to make a freelance career happen when my second leave ended so I didn't have to go through what you are going through.It will be hard, but like all difficult stages it will pass. Both my parents worked, my dad was at sea for 6 months of the year, and I'd like to think I turned out okay. :-)Good luck and try not to let it get you down too much. Change is good!

  3. A Crafty Mom says:

    It sounds like you have a pretty good situation to deal with – yes, change is hard, for everyone, but I bet you will adjust better than you think you will. That's just part of parenthood! You are so fortunate to have wonderful day care for your sons, that is really a big hurdle so count yourself as pretty lucky! Having a supportive family (and I think you do) is also really helpful.I bet you'll all do great 🙂

  4. Christine says:

    Thanks for the support you guys. I know we'll work out a routine, but it's daunting facing the change.

  5. Loukia says:

    Going back to work after being on mat leave, especially a one year mat leave, is very, very hard – I didn't have an easy time with it at all. What made it a bit easier for me was the fact that my bosy were being looked after by my mom/mom-in-law/grandmother… so that made me feel better, but still, saying bye in the mornings – that was so heartbreaking. My oldest son now goes to school in the mornings, but on the days he has off and I go into work , still, it's hard saying bye to his sweetness, and to my baby boy, too – with him I had the full year off – as oppposed to 6 months with my oldest son – and it is very had leaving him, he's not yet two years old now and I still hate saying byebye some mornings! I do love working outside the home, though, and eventually I'd love to be able to only work 3 days a week – for me that would be perfect. Good luck when you return to work… it's not going to be easy at first but you'll all get used to the new routine.

  6. Charlotte says:

    I have never dealt with returning from maternity leave, but I have have dealt with the guilt of splitting my attention between children (I now have to divide 6 ways, you know). I used to feel bad that my younger kids didn't get as much special time with me as my oldest did. But I have found that the younger children get MORE attention than the older ones did; it just isn't always from me. My youngest son was raised with 5 mother hens. In fact he was so used to attention that when his siblings all went to school, he wanted nonstop undivided attention from me. I think you'll find dividing attention between two isn't near as difficult or guilt ridden as you think.Best of luck starting work again! I'm sure in a few short weeks you'll be in your groove.

  7. Sharon says:

    No matter what we choose to do, that choice always seems to be filled with some guilt. But really, we shouldn't feel guilty or awful. It's hard going back to work and it's hard leaving your kids but in the end, you'll be a happy mummy – and I think being happy yourself makes the whole family happier. Good luck!

  8. @WannabeMomErin says:

    Personally, I am looking forward to staying home with my children through their pre-school years; but, you've given me something to think about regarding whether spending 4 years in a totally familiar environment without regular exposure to new places and people would be the best thing for the children. Just because it will make me happier doesn't mean it is in their best interests.

  9. Lisa @ This Mommy Works says:

    I felt like I was reading a snapshot of my own life! I, too, work because 1) I want to and 2) health insurance in the US is so darn expensive! I am the breadwinner in my household. Some days I feel like I have a lot of pressure on me & others I feel ok.I went back to work after 5-6 month maternity leaved and now work 4 days a week. I am fortunate to have my mom who watches the kids part-time.It is so true that it takes a village to raise them! As long as you are comfortable with that village, I say reach fir the stars! And if that means working, so be it :-)cyber hugs to you for next week!

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