When my HR representative asked me about my maternity leave plans when I was pregnant, I made some vague noises about probably taking the full 12 months that I was allowed, maybe, I guess. The truth was, I had no idea how this whole baby thing was going to go. Could I really be a full-time SAHM for an entire year? Could I even afford it, given that a big chunk of that time would be unpaid? Would I go mental being in the house alone with a small screaming person all day?
To all of the above: yes. Maternity leave has been the best/hardest/most tiring/most rewarding period of my life – and soon it will be over.
I thought I might go back to work part time, but for professional and financial reasons, I’ve discovered that’s not going to be possible. So in a few months, I’ll be back in an office full time. The Popple will be in a nursery. And I’m not sure how I’m going to cope with only seeing this face for a few hours in the morning and evening each week day.
Look, I know I’ve been extremely lucky to have had this much time off with her. By the time I go back to work, the Popple will be a year old. Most of my friends and family in the US were only able to take 3 months of maternity leave, and here I am, whining about the end of my 12-month SAHM stint. I feel like a real d*ck. But it’s going to be hard. Baby groups, soft play, marathon buggy walks…this is my world now. I’ve forgotten what it’s like to go to an office wearing clothes that have been ironed, to sit in meetings about monthly content plans and social media strategies, to have a lunch break that doesn’t involve watching your lunch companion throw their food on the floor.
There are some days when I long for that office world, usually because the Popple has just stuck her foot into her poopy nappy or tried to gouge my eyes out with her baby claws because she wants to figure out how my eyelids work. But then I think about how much she laughs when she shakes her head ‘no’. Or how I feel when she says, ‘mama’, even though it’s not directly at me and is usually followed by several raspberries. Or how much she loves that stupid green plastic triangle that she carries around with her everywhere. And my uterus weeps a little.
So, full-time working mums – how do you manage your work/life balance? Do you love going to work and using your pre-baby skills, or do you wish you could spend more time at home? Is leaving your wee one as hard as I think it’s going to be?
Please tell me it’s not going to be that hard.
I kind of miss her already.