I get to go back to work tomorrow. I say “get to” because it is a privilege. I love my job, and I love working. I am blessed that I can get up and go to work every day. It’s a part of my identity, and I love what I do.
I also love the freedom of several solid hours of time when no one is screaming at me for moving her stuffed bear or because he is hungry. I also love my kids. And while I love my job, I love my other job, too. I love earning the title of mom from my two little kiddos. And as much as I am ready to go back to work, I will miss them tremendously.
It’s the last night before my maternity leave ends, and my normal life picks back up seamlessly where it left off—just with a second little person who relies on me for everything in tow. Gone are the days of snuggling with my baby boy and binge-watching old episodes of Survivor out of unadulterated boredom.
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Instead, come tomorrow, I will grab my stilettos and both diaper bags, two kiddos, and up to five stuffed animals of my oldest’s choice, and I will head out into the “real world.” A world where people count on me to do things other than getting cheese sticks and bottles.
I am ecstatic to go back to work. And, at the same time, I am terrified.
I am terrified my baby will no longer be bonded to me. I am terrified I won’t have enough time for each of my kids after work, let alone the energy to complete dinner, playtime, bath time, and bedtime with both kids. I am terrified I won’t have enough time to get all of my actual work done. I’m terrified I’ve forgotten everything and will have an uphill battle getting back in the saddle. I am terrified to love work because it seems like a slap in the face to my darling children who I forced out of their warm beds early to go hang out with strangers. I am terrified.
Six weeks ago, I was in labor. Six weeks ago, I held my precious baby boy for the first time. I’ve been with him every day since. And tomorrow I hand him off to his daycare. I say goodbye. I kiss his soft, peach-fuzz covered head. And I leave. I leave him. Alone. Without me.
I will hand him off as quickly as I can so I can make a mad dash for the car, a place where I can sob without an audience. I’ll spend the entire drive to the office in tears. I’ll stay in the car a little longer, composing myself. And then I will open the door, put my stilettos to the pavement, and hit the ground running again.
I’ll think about them both all day.
I may have to spend an extra minute or two in the bathroom looking at pictures of my beloved children and wiping away tears. But I will press on until I can go pick them up.
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And at 5:30, I will have earned my daughter shouting “Mommy!” when she sees me again. I will have earned the hugs and kisses. I will have earned snuggles from my precious baby boy. I will tuck him tightly in his car seat, and I will grab her sweet little hand and hold it while I carry him to the car. I’ll give her back her stuffed animals, and she will squeal with delight. We will go home.
I’ll find the energy to make dinner and play and give baths. I’ll find the energy to hold them a little tighter before bedtime and to read that one extra story. I will kiss them goodnight and sigh with relief that we all survived, me, especially.
I love my kids. Everything I do is for their benefit. And I hope someday they will appreciate that I sacrificed their snuggles to show them what hard work looks like. Because as tough as it is for them, it’s even more difficult for me.