It has been exactly 31 weeks since I gave birth to my amazing little man. Hard to believe it’s been that long. Almost every waking hour of each one of those weeks, I have spent with Oliver. The main thing on my mind morning, noon, and night has been his needs. I have been blessed – he’s an easy baby. He’s a really easy baby and he’s so filled with joy that the payoff for all the hard work (because, I am the first to admit… being a Mommy is really hard work) is bigger than I could ever describe or imagine.
Tomorrow, I officially return to work. I have been so blessed to be able to take an extended maternity leave, and though I can’t honestly say I have loved EVERY minute… I have loved most. Had you asked me two weeks ago how I was feeling about going back to work, I would have welled up. The thought of not being with Oliver every day made me sad. He is at an age where he is discovering new things at a rapid pace and I don’t want to miss anything. He plays more independently and yet interacts with me all the time (and almost always with a big smile that just melts my heart). It will be hard to not be with him every day, but I’m ready. And that’s OK.
Perhaps I made this up in my head but I feel like there’s an expectation of Mom’s who have lost a baby to want to be with their living children all the time. I lost one so I should spend every possible second with the one I have here on Earth… I think I put that expectation on myself in the beginning. I fear being judged for needing time away, for needing time for myself, and for needing to work. I then realized that suffering a loss does not make parenting and being a Mommy to a living child any less hard. I still had to get up in the middle of the night, I still struggled to be successful with nursing, I still struggled to find time to take a shower, and I still felt the level of exhaustion only Mom’s can understand. All while I continue to grieve my precious Maya. I have a profound appreciation for my beautiful boy. I say every day how truly blessed we are. I can be happy and feel blessed while also feeling stressed and overwhelmed and tired. And I will feel all of these things guilt-free because I am human.
I will also return to work guilt-free. I am absolutely meant to be a Mom and I really do love being Maya and Oliver’s Mommy. But I also love teaching. Last week, I went into school to begin setting up my new classroom and it felt so good. I started to feel pieces of my old self return. I realized that though it’s been 7 months since I’ve taught, it will all come back to me. Just as being a Mommy came (mostly) natural to me, so does being a teacher. It’s what I’m meant to do, and I believe that being back in the classroom will make me a better Mommy.
So, on this last official day of my summer vacation/maternity leave, I am focusing on being grateful rather than sad. I am grateful that I had 7 months where my only job was to take care of my sweet baby boy. I am grateful that he is going to a wonderful daycare and will be well taken care of. I am grateful that he will have the opportunity to make friends and socialize. I am grateful that I have a job to go back to that I love. I am grateful for wonderful colleagues and friends that I have missed seeing every day. I am grateful for my amazing husband who has been so supportive and sensitive during this transition. I am grateful for my precious Oliver who makes every day more exciting than the last and whose glorious smile makes every day bright.