I’ve less than a month left of my maternity leave. I’ve been into work, to arrange a day to come back, and how I’m going to take my holiday balance (quite healthy due to the fact I haven’t been in since November of last year..), and about changes that have happened in those months that I’ve vacated the premises. The days of my lounging around for the morning with tiny man in one arm being fed his bottle, while attempting to eat my own breakfast and having a sneaky cuddle are to come to an end.
Soon, I will have to get up with an alarm clock, not just when he decides he’s had enough of lounging around and it’s time for Mammy to play. I’ll have to ensure I look decent for consumption by the outside world (thankfully not with proper office dress, thankfully a very lax dress code, but still), and manage to get out the door on time. Back to bus schedules, and grumpily waiting for Bus Eireann to get their act together in the lashing rain. Back to sitting in an ergonomic chair, and solving the problems of the world from my headset, with every word I say being looked at critically. It’s a time I’ve been looking forward to for most of the last ten months – I never planned to be off work for this long, by any stretch of the imagination, its just how circumstances played out. Sheer dumb luck has afforded me an employer who paid for full maternity leave (and the sick leave before it). I am very aware of how lucky I am in this circumstance, especially compared to many I know who have had to struggle to make ends meet on the State benefit for their whole maternity leave. It’s definitely made the last few months easier than they could have been. I’m also exceptionally lucky to be able to have a childcare choice that I’m thrilled with and is someone I trust infinitely with my baby.
I’ve looked forward to going back. To spending the day with adults, who don’t talk about poo, or sleep habits, or whether or not my son is “good” (though that tends to fall under the sleep habits conversation). To being able to sit, with a coffee, not holding a bottle into a mouth, or tickling an underarm, or making faces and sticking my tongue out. To not having to haul my behemoth of a buggy absolutely everywhere, with my darling son likely to start crying at the most inopportune time (No darling, I can’t leave the buggy open, the sky has decided to fall). Definitely to get some form of a routine and something else to talk about – strolling the same routes, day in, day out does not lead to very many tales of interest to talk about over dinner.
I can’t wait to be a member of society again. To have a life outside of my baby. To reclaim the old me, who had other things going on, and other things to talk about. Even to feel like I’ve got a purpose in life that I have to work at, but that if I fail at it isn’t the end of the world, unlike Mammydom which has the eternal guilt complex of screwing up a tiny persons life.
When I look at my boy, all five months old of him, smiling up at me as we hang out on the sofa, I know I’m going to miss him. It will break my heart when he inevitably learns new things and takes his first major leaps into growing up in front of someone else, while I’m at work. I will miss his smiles, and that giggle I’ve gotten accustomed to when we do Row, Row, Row the Boat (or as we did this morning, Rock the Boat). I will miss him burrowing into my chest to fall asleep after his morning bottle, and sitting back with my sleeping infant on me to watch an episode of whatever I’m making my way through on Netflix. I’ll miss our almost daily walks to the park, where he will look in amazement at the dogs, and the trees, and everything that seems so ordinary to me, but so absolutely incredible to him.
While I know going back to work is the best thing I can possibly do, to give my boy the best life he can have, and to make me the sane Mammy he needs me to be, a part of me will wish I was still at home, on the sofa, hanging out and having the chats. I’m just hoping the part of me thats looking forward to the coffee breaks talking to adults makes it all worthwhile.
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