September is just around the corner, and with it looms back-to-school and the end of my maternity leave. I’ve had all summer to prepare for this moment, to gather my emotions and get myself together, yet the panic sets in a little more each day. How can I possibly leave him? Unfortunately, staying home is not an option. There is a mound of student loan debt with my name on it, and Uncle Sam doesn’t take rain checks.
Growing up it was my dream to be both a professional AND a mom. A social butterfly and a doer, I never understood the desire to be a SAHM. I wanted more than that. I NEEDED more than that. I envisioned myself balancing busy days at work with nighttime snuggles, completely blissed out at the thought of having my cake and eating it too. That all changed the moment I held my baby for the first time.
I’ve been blessed to spend the first four months of A’s life at home; a luxury many women cannot afford. I’ve witnessed first smiles and first laughs, and reveled in the sweet smell and squish of my baby. I’ve watched him blossom from a wrinkly newborn into a chubby infant. I’ve become attached. Boy, have I become attached.
I’ll admit that I am nervous about A’s transition. I’m afraid that he will spend his days crying, feeling as if I abandoned him. I worry that his sleeping and eating will be disrupted; that he’ll revert to his newborn patterns of waking every two hours during the night. The thought of my little man missing me is enough to bring me to tears.
Deep down there is another fear; one that is entirely selfish on my part: What if A doesn’t miss me? What if he likes daycare? What if he is so caught up in the excitement that he cries when I pick him up? This worry eats me up almost as much as the thought of him pining for me. And don’t even get me started on the firsts that I will miss…
I know there are a multitude of benefits to A receiving care outside of the home (hello social skills and immunity). I also love my job as a teacher. With teaching comes weekends and vacation days, long recesses and summer vacations. All days that I can spend snuggling and loving on my boy.
I’m sure that my first few days back to work won’t be without tears. Everyone tells me the first week is the worst, then it gets easier. I’m hoping they’re right. In the meantime I’m going to revel in every minute spent with him, cherishing them for the gift they are.
How did you cope with your return to work? Share your tips for surviving those first days in the comment section below.