Today, while I was online shopping for some new outfits for work, bitterly pressing the “add to cart” button while a single tear ran down my cheek because the clothes were a size larger than I usually wear, it really hit me that I’ll be heading back to the office next week. Normally, I would have no problem dropping some coin on a cute little number that is easy to take off, but for a completely different reason than using my breast pump at work. Sidenote, can we talk about how breastfeeding/pumping is not the “cheaper option” everyone says it is when you have to spend your life savings on new tops that accommodate your larger bacon hangers? UGH. Anyway, like I was saying, the feeling of heading back is undoubtedly very bittersweet. Returning to work means no more sitting on the couch for 2 hour periods staring into my sweet baby’s face while I hold him. No more middle of the day Target runs, chatting with my favorite cashier about how she doesn’t need a husband, because she just bought a candle that smells like a REAL MAN. No more binge watching Netflix shows about murder or baking (they go hand in hand). It’s all gone so fast! Was it really only 11 weeks ago that I was wearing an adult diaper? Only 10 weeks ago that I was able to transition to wearing a pad the size of a futon? Only 9 weeks ago that I took a vow to only wear “granny panties” for the rest of eternity?! I guess it’s like they always say, time flies when you’re sporting Depends.
Ah, maternity leave, you were a good time and I’ll miss you. I won’t complain (too much) that it’s over because I, unlike a lot of new parents, was fortunate enough to have been granted my request to spend 12 weeks at home with my beautiful boys. We’ve just entered our last week and I can honestly say, it’s been a rollercoaster. It’s been beautiful and ugly and hard and so much fun and so depressing and perfect. I’ll tell you what it hasn’t been, though. A VACATION. I recently read a short post by a working mom that sums it up perfectly, and I encourage you to read it too: READ ME. So, let me say it a little louder for those in the back: MATERNITY LEAVE IS NOT A VACATION. If anything, it’s more like college spring break! The beginning is a blur, and all I really remember is some hot guy running around in his underwear in the middle of the night and the police coming to the door because the smoke alarms wouldn’t stop going off. The middle is when you start to get used to your new surroundings and think, “I could stay here forever!!” and the end is filled with regret around the things you didn’t get to do while you were gone, but you’re a little ready to get back to your routine. None of this includes a beach or fruity drinks, though. So maybe it’s not like spring break at all.
It’s insane that there are humans out there that view this time as anything other than REALLY hard work. Do people really think moms on maternity leave spend their time away from the office jackin’ around and getting facials? I mean, if you count sticking my face in the dishwasher immediately after it finishes running and letting my face absorb the steam while I maniacally grab for bottle parts to feed my screaming baby, then yes, I get facials several times a week.
While I’m on my soapbox, let me take a second to give a shout out to stay-at-home moms and daycare providers. I honestly don’t have a clue how you do it. Just last week as I was listening to the baby scream at the top of his lungs and witnessing the toddler swan diving out of his crib onto the hard floor, I contemplated if 9 am was too early for vodka and finally decided once and for all that I’m not cut out for that kind of work. It’s too tough for me, mentally, physically and financially. Financially because of the wine habit I would almost certainly develop, and I have expensive taste. So, cheers to you ladies and all you do, both for your own kids and for mine. You da real mvp’s.
While I’m excited to go back and get to work, I’m also a little nervous. While 12 weeks feels like a short time to be home with my baby, 12 weeks away from the office is a very long time. Do I just waltz back in there pretending to be the same person I was when I left? I’m not the same person, I’ve changed! Mostly because I watch cartoons 16 hours a day and my brain has melted a bit. Needless to say, the scary thoughts are swarming. When I go back will I be as creative as I (thought I) was before? Will I accidentally refer to myself in the third person as “mama” during a client meeting (again)? Will I be judged because I didn’t lose this baby weight as fast as I did the first time? As I was doing my daily “Naked Captain Morgan” in front of the mirror the other day, I gave this bod a real long gaze, and YIKES. Wait, you don’t know what the “Naked Captain Morgan” is? It’s that position you get into when you’re naked and have one foot on the floor and one foot up on the toilet as you apply your body lotion. It can be a real scary process if you aren’t ready for it, so I suggest taking a big swig of your finest scotch beforehand if you’re trying it for the first time. ANYWAY. I’m sure going back to work will be fine. In fact, becoming a mom of two HAS improved my multi-tasking skills. Just ask the coach bus full of people who witnessed me breast-pumping while eating a chicken sandwich as I drove 78 mph down Interstate 80 yesterday. It’s fine. Plus, I’m lucky to work where I work and have long been accepted as the “crazy” one amongst my coworkers, so if nothing else, I have that going for me.
So, while maternity leave was no vacation by any stretch, it was a beautiful time spent at home with my boys. A time to heal, both mentally and physically. A time to bond. A time to laugh and to cry and to nitpick the shit out of all of the locally made commercials I saw on TV 80 times a day – (I’ve got opinions, folks). Wish me luck this week, because I’m going to need it, especially if all of those clothes I ordered online don’t show up.
Til next time! Xoxo