It was the best of times. It was the worst of times.

Almost one year ago to the day I embarked on my second maternity leave. I had struggled through a difficult pregnancy, I was feeling apprehensive and excited at the same time about the soon to be newest member of our family. I was exhausted, I was nervous. I was so many things as I waited for my son’s arrival.

Fast forward one year, through many struggles, and today I feel many of the same emotions. My youngest started daycare today. I am exhausted, I’m nervous, I’m apprehensive, I’m excited. It’s funny how so much has changed and yet so little at the same time.

I want to write about the good times and hard times I’ve faced over the last year. As I write, I realize that one post will probably not be enough. The year has gone by in the blink of an eye and was filled with so many ups and downs. As the saying goes: The days were long, the year was so short.

Early and for most of the year, my biggest struggles have all been sleep related. Or, most specifically, lack of sleep related. When I think over the year, I can categorize all the hard times in periods when the baby was waking frequently or when I struggled to sleep between wake-ups. In some ways, my second baby slept better than my first. Early on, he was a fantastic sleeper. I think this lulled me into a false sense of security. The good nights were short lived. I hit a few very rocky periods around six weeks, four months and eight months. I remember them to be the worst, I was a walking zombie, I was not fun to be around, I struggled most moments with both my baby and my preschooler. Above all, the year will be categorized by fatigue, because my fatigue fueled everything else.

My struggle with fatigue extended to my inability to cope well with managing two young boys for many, many days. I remember crying lots, fearing that I was doing a terrible job, wondering if my oldest felt loved enough, wondering how I would ever manage both. I argued with my oldest, lost patience with him on countless occasions, generally felt like a schmuck because I was always so grouchy. As I found my way, I discovered little tricks that helped a bit. For example, we brought the sand box (sand is his passion) up onto our back deck. He spent hours playing in the sand, easily within my line of sight out the patio door while I nursed baby, folded laundry, prepared meals, did whatever countless menial tasks that filled my days. I felt relieved that he was content and that I wasn’t occupying his time with TV. It made up for the fact that I didn’t have the energy to get out and play outside for much of the summer. July was my worst month.

At the same time, I witnessed the blossoming of my their relationship with each other. From the moment my oldest met his younger brother I knew that part was going to be okay. He was clearly enchanted with his baby brother, he was always excited to see him. He hugged, him, kissed him, talked to him. I never had to worry about him resenting him. It magically just fell into place.

I took great joy over the year in just getting to know my youngest baby. We chose to keep the oldest in care three days a week. For us, this worked. For my boys, this worked. He was able to continue to play with his friends, stay busy when I couldn’t keep him busy, and keep on routine. It also ensured that I would have a place in care for both boys when I returned to work. On these days, I would walk endlessly with my little one. I can still feel the incredible sense of peace and joy I got from just walking for hours with him. While he slept all cozy, I’d listen to music, feel the sunshine on my face and enjoy an incredible comfort with my life. We travelled around together, shopped, met with friends, and enjoyed each other’s company. It’s that togetherness that I’ll miss most now with my return to work.

There were random weeks when everything just felt right. These were the moments when I felt like I was doing a reasonably good job of parenting. I would get out and enjoy doing things with my boys such as going to the park, to museums, out for lunch. Both would be in wonderful moods, easy to manage. I felt like I had conquered the world as I grew more comfortable going places with both. As the year went on, I grew more confident and joyful about my little family. We felt like a unit. It’s immensely satisfying to feel that kind of peace.

Today though, we move on. We start a new chapter. I’m sad, I can’t shake this crazy feeling that it is the end. It’s silly, because it’s really just the beginning of something new. I’m know that my baby’s life will be richer for all the new experiences he’s about to have. I know it will also be good to get back to reality, to find a routine that works for us.

I’d love to hear about your stories about going back to work. What did you do to make it easier? How did your children do? What would you change if you could go back and do it again?

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32 thoughts on “It was the best of times. It was the worst of times.

  1. amyclg says:

    Great post – good luck with all of your new beginnings. I can relate to the "this is the end" feeling you mention from last year when I went back to work after baby #1, but he's blossomed so much since. Wishing you and your family all the best!

  2. amyclg says:

    Great post – good luck with all of your new beginnings. I can relate to the "this is the end" feeling you mention from last year when I went back to work after baby #1, but he's blossomed so much since. Wishing you and your family all the best!

  3. amyclg says:

    Great post – good luck with all of your new beginnings. I can relate to the "this is the end" feeling you mention from last year when I went back to work after baby #1, but he's blossomed so much since. Wishing you and your family all the best!

  4. amyclg says:

    Great post – good luck with all of your new beginnings. I can relate to the "this is the end" feeling you mention from last year when I went back to work after baby #1, but he's blossomed so much since. Wishing you and your family all the best!

  5. A Crafty Mom says:

    I love that you're taking the time to reflect on all of this – so many mothers don't do that. I hope the transition goes well for you – and you're so absolutely right. It's not the end by any means, but a new beginning on a new adventure for all of you. Wishing you the best of luck šŸ™‚ Hope you keep us posted on your journey!

  6. A Crafty Mom says:

    I love that you're taking the time to reflect on all of this – so many mothers don't do that. I hope the transition goes well for you – and you're so absolutely right. It's not the end by any means, but a new beginning on a new adventure for all of you. Wishing you the best of luck šŸ™‚ Hope you keep us posted on your journey!

  7. A Crafty Mom says:

    I love that you're taking the time to reflect on all of this – so many mothers don't do that. I hope the transition goes well for you – and you're so absolutely right. It's not the end by any means, but a new beginning on a new adventure for all of you. Wishing you the best of luck šŸ™‚ Hope you keep us posted on your journey!

  8. A Crafty Mom says:

    I love that you're taking the time to reflect on all of this – so many mothers don't do that. I hope the transition goes well for you – and you're so absolutely right. It's not the end by any means, but a new beginning on a new adventure for all of you. Wishing you the best of luck šŸ™‚ Hope you keep us posted on your journey!

  9. Loukia says:

    What a great post, Christine. You're not alone in your feelings. For me, the days are long but the years are short rings true, in so many ways. I feel guilty that I work full-time, even though my boys are taken care of by my mom/in-laws. Going back to work was not the easiest thing, but it's working. I wish I could work only 3 days a week, and spent more time at home with my boys. I try to stay calm and have patience with my children, because I hate when we fight, or the days when I feel like I'm not doing a good job. I think, as moms, we'll always have these feelings – great, fabulous, I'm on top of the world weeks, and weeks where we think we're doing it all wrong, when things are just not going great… each stage is a transition, and each stage can be bittersweet – our children growing up is both a blessing and sad at the same time. It's just important to remember to take it all in. Snap those pictures in your head of the moment… live in the moment. Enjoy each day! And good luck… it's not easy sometimes.

  10. Loukia says:

    What a great post, Christine. You're not alone in your feelings. For me, the days are long but the years are short rings true, in so many ways. I feel guilty that I work full-time, even though my boys are taken care of by my mom/in-laws. Going back to work was not the easiest thing, but it's working. I wish I could work only 3 days a week, and spent more time at home with my boys. I try to stay calm and have patience with my children, because I hate when we fight, or the days when I feel like I'm not doing a good job. I think, as moms, we'll always have these feelings – great, fabulous, I'm on top of the world weeks, and weeks where we think we're doing it all wrong, when things are just not going great… each stage is a transition, and each stage can be bittersweet – our children growing up is both a blessing and sad at the same time. It's just important to remember to take it all in. Snap those pictures in your head of the moment… live in the moment. Enjoy each day! And good luck… it's not easy sometimes.

  11. Loukia says:

    What a great post, Christine. You're not alone in your feelings. For me, the days are long but the years are short rings true, in so many ways. I feel guilty that I work full-time, even though my boys are taken care of by my mom/in-laws. Going back to work was not the easiest thing, but it's working. I wish I could work only 3 days a week, and spent more time at home with my boys. I try to stay calm and have patience with my children, because I hate when we fight, or the days when I feel like I'm not doing a good job. I think, as moms, we'll always have these feelings – great, fabulous, I'm on top of the world weeks, and weeks where we think we're doing it all wrong, when things are just not going great… each stage is a transition, and each stage can be bittersweet – our children growing up is both a blessing and sad at the same time. It's just important to remember to take it all in. Snap those pictures in your head of the moment… live in the moment. Enjoy each day! And good luck… it's not easy sometimes.

  12. Loukia says:

    What a great post, Christine. You're not alone in your feelings. For me, the days are long but the years are short rings true, in so many ways. I feel guilty that I work full-time, even though my boys are taken care of by my mom/in-laws. Going back to work was not the easiest thing, but it's working. I wish I could work only 3 days a week, and spent more time at home with my boys. I try to stay calm and have patience with my children, because I hate when we fight, or the days when I feel like I'm not doing a good job. I think, as moms, we'll always have these feelings – great, fabulous, I'm on top of the world weeks, and weeks where we think we're doing it all wrong, when things are just not going great… each stage is a transition, and each stage can be bittersweet – our children growing up is both a blessing and sad at the same time. It's just important to remember to take it all in. Snap those pictures in your head of the moment… live in the moment. Enjoy each day! And good luck… it's not easy sometimes.

  13. Lisa @ This Mommy Works says:

    It is so great to see that you are taking this time in, before you return to work, to reflect on your time that you did have with them. Returning to work was not easy for me, either time. I was able to take about 5 months off for each of them, which did not seem like nearly enough time, but I knew that I was more fortunate than some women who only get 6 weeks. Living in California is so darn expensive!To make it easier, I started daycare before I had to go back to work. Not just for me, but for them. We all had to get used to our new schedule and being apart. I spent those days crying and reminiscing about how nice the time was that we had, similar to what you are doing.Once I was back at work, my husband & I worked out a schedule where he was home to help me in the morning to get everyone ready for a weeks until I adjusted to the new life. Then we agreed that I would drop them off & he would pick them up. This allowed the kids the shortest amount of time in daycare ~ 8.5 hrs a day usually.I always found that my children did fine. They enjoyed making new friends and I loved hearing about their fun days & getting all of their beautiful artwork when I got home. Of course, there are things I don't like about having them in daycare (other kids' bad behavior, etc.), but in the end I think it is good for them to be socialized and be in an environment that has structure. I also like feeling like I have a sense of my own individual left and my adult time.If I could do it all again, I would have stayed home longer. But that would mean moving to another state away from family where it was cheaper & I would not be willing to do that.Good luck to you! The days will get easier and you will all ajust šŸ™‚

  14. Lisa @ This Mommy Works says:

    It is so great to see that you are taking this time in, before you return to work, to reflect on your time that you did have with them. Returning to work was not easy for me, either time. I was able to take about 5 months off for each of them, which did not seem like nearly enough time, but I knew that I was more fortunate than some women who only get 6 weeks. Living in California is so darn expensive!To make it easier, I started daycare before I had to go back to work. Not just for me, but for them. We all had to get used to our new schedule and being apart. I spent those days crying and reminiscing about how nice the time was that we had, similar to what you are doing.Once I was back at work, my husband & I worked out a schedule where he was home to help me in the morning to get everyone ready for a weeks until I adjusted to the new life. Then we agreed that I would drop them off & he would pick them up. This allowed the kids the shortest amount of time in daycare ~ 8.5 hrs a day usually.I always found that my children did fine. They enjoyed making new friends and I loved hearing about their fun days & getting all of their beautiful artwork when I got home. Of course, there are things I don't like about having them in daycare (other kids' bad behavior, etc.), but in the end I think it is good for them to be socialized and be in an environment that has structure. I also like feeling like I have a sense of my own individual left and my adult time.If I could do it all again, I would have stayed home longer. But that would mean moving to another state away from family where it was cheaper & I would not be willing to do that.Good luck to you! The days will get easier and you will all ajust šŸ™‚

  15. Lisa @ This Mommy Works says:

    It is so great to see that you are taking this time in, before you return to work, to reflect on your time that you did have with them. Returning to work was not easy for me, either time. I was able to take about 5 months off for each of them, which did not seem like nearly enough time, but I knew that I was more fortunate than some women who only get 6 weeks. Living in California is so darn expensive!To make it easier, I started daycare before I had to go back to work. Not just for me, but for them. We all had to get used to our new schedule and being apart. I spent those days crying and reminiscing about how nice the time was that we had, similar to what you are doing.Once I was back at work, my husband & I worked out a schedule where he was home to help me in the morning to get everyone ready for a weeks until I adjusted to the new life. Then we agreed that I would drop them off & he would pick them up. This allowed the kids the shortest amount of time in daycare ~ 8.5 hrs a day usually.I always found that my children did fine. They enjoyed making new friends and I loved hearing about their fun days & getting all of their beautiful artwork when I got home. Of course, there are things I don't like about having them in daycare (other kids' bad behavior, etc.), but in the end I think it is good for them to be socialized and be in an environment that has structure. I also like feeling like I have a sense of my own individual left and my adult time.If I could do it all again, I would have stayed home longer. But that would mean moving to another state away from family where it was cheaper & I would not be willing to do that.Good luck to you! The days will get easier and you will all ajust šŸ™‚

  16. Lisa @ This Mommy Works says:

    It is so great to see that you are taking this time in, before you return to work, to reflect on your time that you did have with them. Returning to work was not easy for me, either time. I was able to take about 5 months off for each of them, which did not seem like nearly enough time, but I knew that I was more fortunate than some women who only get 6 weeks. Living in California is so darn expensive!To make it easier, I started daycare before I had to go back to work. Not just for me, but for them. We all had to get used to our new schedule and being apart. I spent those days crying and reminiscing about how nice the time was that we had, similar to what you are doing.Once I was back at work, my husband & I worked out a schedule where he was home to help me in the morning to get everyone ready for a weeks until I adjusted to the new life. Then we agreed that I would drop them off & he would pick them up. This allowed the kids the shortest amount of time in daycare ~ 8.5 hrs a day usually.I always found that my children did fine. They enjoyed making new friends and I loved hearing about their fun days & getting all of their beautiful artwork when I got home. Of course, there are things I don't like about having them in daycare (other kids' bad behavior, etc.), but in the end I think it is good for them to be socialized and be in an environment that has structure. I also like feeling like I have a sense of my own individual left and my adult time.If I could do it all again, I would have stayed home longer. But that would mean moving to another state away from family where it was cheaper & I would not be willing to do that.Good luck to you! The days will get easier and you will all ajust šŸ™‚

  17. Kristen @ Motherese says:

    Christine, your description of your days with a toddler and an infant are so familiar to me. I haven't gone back to work yet, but will look forward to following your journey as a model for my own, wishing you peace and strength on your way.

  18. Kristen @ Motherese says:

    Christine, your description of your days with a toddler and an infant are so familiar to me. I haven't gone back to work yet, but will look forward to following your journey as a model for my own, wishing you peace and strength on your way.

  19. Kristen @ Motherese says:

    Christine, your description of your days with a toddler and an infant are so familiar to me. I haven't gone back to work yet, but will look forward to following your journey as a model for my own, wishing you peace and strength on your way.

  20. Kristen @ Motherese says:

    Christine, your description of your days with a toddler and an infant are so familiar to me. I haven't gone back to work yet, but will look forward to following your journey as a model for my own, wishing you peace and strength on your way.

  21. Laurie says:

    I took one year mat leaves and then returned to work with both of my first boys. The first time I had a rough couple of weeks but after found the return to work to be (mostly) exhilarating. He loved daycare and I enjoyed being back at work. The second time? It was a bit more hectic. The 1 yo settled into daycare pretty well, he was very social and enjoyed the other kids. But they got sick twice as often, I missed a lot of work and found it far more exhausting and stressful than I had expected. Getting two ready and into the vehicle was more challenging. Daycare dropoff took twice as long – I just felt rushed all the time! My hubby couldn't help much either, he works out of town for weeks at a time.Still, it WAS a beginning and overall an interesting journey. I wasn't too unhappy to stop working out of the home after #3 though – it would just be a lot to juggle. Working from home strikes a better balance for now.

  22. Laurie says:

    I took one year mat leaves and then returned to work with both of my first boys. The first time I had a rough couple of weeks but after found the return to work to be (mostly) exhilarating. He loved daycare and I enjoyed being back at work. The second time? It was a bit more hectic. The 1 yo settled into daycare pretty well, he was very social and enjoyed the other kids. But they got sick twice as often, I missed a lot of work and found it far more exhausting and stressful than I had expected. Getting two ready and into the vehicle was more challenging. Daycare dropoff took twice as long – I just felt rushed all the time! My hubby couldn't help much either, he works out of town for weeks at a time.Still, it WAS a beginning and overall an interesting journey. I wasn't too unhappy to stop working out of the home after #3 though – it would just be a lot to juggle. Working from home strikes a better balance for now.

  23. Laurie says:

    I took one year mat leaves and then returned to work with both of my first boys. The first time I had a rough couple of weeks but after found the return to work to be (mostly) exhilarating. He loved daycare and I enjoyed being back at work. The second time? It was a bit more hectic. The 1 yo settled into daycare pretty well, he was very social and enjoyed the other kids. But they got sick twice as often, I missed a lot of work and found it far more exhausting and stressful than I had expected. Getting two ready and into the vehicle was more challenging. Daycare dropoff took twice as long – I just felt rushed all the time! My hubby couldn't help much either, he works out of town for weeks at a time.Still, it WAS a beginning and overall an interesting journey. I wasn't too unhappy to stop working out of the home after #3 though – it would just be a lot to juggle. Working from home strikes a better balance for now.

  24. Laurie says:

    I took one year mat leaves and then returned to work with both of my first boys. The first time I had a rough couple of weeks but after found the return to work to be (mostly) exhilarating. He loved daycare and I enjoyed being back at work. The second time? It was a bit more hectic. The 1 yo settled into daycare pretty well, he was very social and enjoyed the other kids. But they got sick twice as often, I missed a lot of work and found it far more exhausting and stressful than I had expected. Getting two ready and into the vehicle was more challenging. Daycare dropoff took twice as long – I just felt rushed all the time! My hubby couldn't help much either, he works out of town for weeks at a time.Still, it WAS a beginning and overall an interesting journey. I wasn't too unhappy to stop working out of the home after #3 though – it would just be a lot to juggle. Working from home strikes a better balance for now.

  25. Lisa says:

    I was a MESS when I went back to work after my first mat leave. Cried every day all the way to work for a month. Then, it got easier and I enjoyed being a working mom. Now I'm in a weird place. I planned on going back to work after my 2nd leave, but when DD was diagnosed with a medical condition, the only option was to stay home. Some days I LOVE being at home. Others, not so much. Your description of the sleep dep scenario was dead on.

  26. Lisa says:

    I was a MESS when I went back to work after my first mat leave. Cried every day all the way to work for a month. Then, it got easier and I enjoyed being a working mom. Now I'm in a weird place. I planned on going back to work after my 2nd leave, but when DD was diagnosed with a medical condition, the only option was to stay home. Some days I LOVE being at home. Others, not so much. Your description of the sleep dep scenario was dead on.

  27. Lisa says:

    I was a MESS when I went back to work after my first mat leave. Cried every day all the way to work for a month. Then, it got easier and I enjoyed being a working mom. Now I'm in a weird place. I planned on going back to work after my 2nd leave, but when DD was diagnosed with a medical condition, the only option was to stay home. Some days I LOVE being at home. Others, not so much. Your description of the sleep dep scenario was dead on.

  28. Lisa says:

    I was a MESS when I went back to work after my first mat leave. Cried every day all the way to work for a month. Then, it got easier and I enjoyed being a working mom. Now I'm in a weird place. I planned on going back to work after my 2nd leave, but when DD was diagnosed with a medical condition, the only option was to stay home. Some days I LOVE being at home. Others, not so much. Your description of the sleep dep scenario was dead on.

  29. Allison says:

    I remember those first few fuzzy, sleep deprived months with my son. I cherish everyone moment, but man does it takes it toll on you.I wish you the best of luck on returning to work. I remember that as the hardest day in the world for me. But it does get easier. You'll get into a routine and life will go on and be wonderful. And you'll continue to have good days and bad, but with a good support system you will make it through. Keep us posted on how the transition goes.

  30. Allison says:

    I remember those first few fuzzy, sleep deprived months with my son. I cherish everyone moment, but man does it takes it toll on you.I wish you the best of luck on returning to work. I remember that as the hardest day in the world for me. But it does get easier. You'll get into a routine and life will go on and be wonderful. And you'll continue to have good days and bad, but with a good support system you will make it through. Keep us posted on how the transition goes.

  31. Allison says:

    I remember those first few fuzzy, sleep deprived months with my son. I cherish everyone moment, but man does it takes it toll on you.I wish you the best of luck on returning to work. I remember that as the hardest day in the world for me. But it does get easier. You'll get into a routine and life will go on and be wonderful. And you'll continue to have good days and bad, but with a good support system you will make it through. Keep us posted on how the transition goes.

  32. Allison says:

    I remember those first few fuzzy, sleep deprived months with my son. I cherish everyone moment, but man does it takes it toll on you.I wish you the best of luck on returning to work. I remember that as the hardest day in the world for me. But it does get easier. You'll get into a routine and life will go on and be wonderful. And you'll continue to have good days and bad, but with a good support system you will make it through. Keep us posted on how the transition goes.

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