What an awesome summer. I’ve loved evening bike rides, trips to the playground with my kids, driving the swimming lesson carpool, family dinners and time to just breathe and enjoy my baby girl without the pressures of strict schedules and work. If it sounds magical, that’s because it has been. My work schedule makes a lot of that difficult... even in the summer.
But as summer draws to a close, so does my 12 week maternity leave. Next Tuesday (September 8) marks my return to work.
I have mixed emotions about going back – more on that in a minute.
First though, real talk. Being home with my kids (full disclosure: my 2 boys are in daycare) has been a lot of hard freaking work.
Like the time I slipped out of the living room for 3 minutes to put away laundry. Suddenly my stomach dropped as I heard my 2 and 3 year old giggling uncontrollably and the sound of a baby rattle shaking. I sprinted my jiggly, 5 week postpartum body into the room to find one little boy on either side of the bouncy seat… CHEERFULLY BOUNCING IT AS HIGH AND LOW AS IT WOULD GO. They thought it was hilarious and in hindsight, probably didn’t know what they were doing was wrong.
I lost it. They went straight into time out while I yelled (loudly). I was so mad I had to go into another room and call my husband at work to calm me down.
Side note: the baby was fine and just watched it all go down with huge eyes. I think the third kid just has no choice but to be more resilient...
It's also worth noting they've otherwise been super gentle with her. My 2-year-old still gets a serious look on his face while shaking his head from side-to-side saying, ‘I no touch the bouncy seat?’ No buddy. Hands off.
Or there’s the week after that when said toddlers and husband came down with fevers, stomach bugs and a lone throat infection that invaded our house for 7 days straight. Trying to keep sick, clingy boys away from baby girl and me while taking care of everyone on top of major sleep deprivation was rough.
I cried a lot that week. A lot.
Or what about the morning my 2-year-old discovered a sippy cup of milk in the couch cushions while I nursed his little sister?
“Don’t drink that!!!” I screamed in a panic as the baby painfully un-latched and my big kids looked at me like I was a crazy person.
That milk was at least 24 hours old. And my kid took a sip.
And then there’s the day I blissfully snuggled baby girl and realized her neck smelled funky. Like milk in her skin folds, desperately need a bath funky. I texted my husband at work and asked if he remembered when we last bathed her.
‘IDK, maybe Tuesday? Wednesday?’ he replied.
‘It’s TUESDAY!’ I typed back. ‘How did we go a week without giving our newborn a bath!?’
I forgot to give my kid a bath. Period.
In the end, she survived. Babies that tiny only need 1 or 2 baths a week anyway… so I’m told.
Those are just a few of the precious, chaotic moments I’ve shared with my kids during my leave. We won’t get into how many times I cried (there have been MANY, today being one of them) because it’s all so overwhelming.
But I've adjusted. For example, I've learned how to feed a baby while reading bedtime stories, giving baths and even once while changing bed sheets after a bed wetting accident that I didn’t notice for 12 hours. Whoopsy!
In case you can’t tell, I just don't feel I'm cut out to do the whole stay-at-home mom thing and I have so much respect for moms who do it.
Maybe it’s because of my husband’s LONG work shifts or because I just don’t have the patience to be the best parent I can be when I’m with tiny humans every second of every day.I don’t feel like I’m good at being a nice person or a good mommy when I'm constantly changing diapers, cleaning up messes and refereeing fights over toys. But I also don’t feel badly about that.
For me, work is a “break” from all that. Time for me to do what I love, meet new people and tell their stories, interact with grown-ups and then come back to my kids and see their eyes light up as we talk about all the fun things they did and new things they learned that day.
So as I count down the days (and hours) until I go back to the full time working mom grind, I feel ready. But I know there will be challenges.
Here's a little spot you might have seen airing on WSBT in the past few days... the boys were so good when my friend from work came over to shoot this!
Lots of my mom friends are asking if I’ll be sad when I go back, or if it will be hard for me.
The short answer? NO.
Don’t get me wrong… I love my babies to death and have soaked in every single second of being home with them, but they are in amazing hands while I’m away. Plus, I feel like working makes me a better mom because I’m more attentive to and patient and present with my kids when we are together. I want to give them the best me.
Yes, sometimes the guilt creeps in. Their dinner time is usually over by the time I make it home from work. I know I’ll probably cry and feel overwhelmed on the days I work late and 1 or all 3 of my kids are asleep when I walk in the door. But we’ll all wake up the next morning excited to see each other and talk about what we’re going to do to make the day great.
You know what else?
THEY WILL STILL LOVE ME.
Kids are amazing like that.
So here’s to the end of my last maternity leave. No more babies after this – 3 is definitely our number and we feel so fortunate to have happy, curious, energetic and healthy kids.
I’m working toward being at peace with my role as a mom and wife who also works full time. And I’m OK with the fact that I’m a work in progress.
I'm a mom to 3 beautiful, spirited, elementary school-aged humans, I'm addicted to running + strength training, I have no filter & I work full time in the corporate world. But behind the scenes of all that is where it really gets interesting...