Dear Little One,
Tomorrow I go back to work.
That means today was officially the end of my maternity leave.
The maternity leave I dreamt about while I was pregnant with you. I couldn’t wait for it, because it meant that you would finally be here and I would get to spend twelve beautiful weeks, three whole months, getting to know you. And get to know you, I have!
I know that you have a hard time waking up in the morning, like me. When you start to stir and open your eyes, I go in and pick you up. You cuddle in and continue to open and close your eyes, some days for the next hour. I lie in bed and watch you, or rock you in our chair, and my heart is so full. My heart is so full—almost as full as you are of smiles as soon as you do wake up! I feed you, change you, and play with you, and all the while a smile never leaves your face.
I know you don’t like to fall asleep; you are so alert and so curious about the world around you, I have to help you fall asleep during the day. Naps are definitely not your favorite—you didn’t get that from me. However, once you are asleep, you can sleep through anything like your dad. Bedtime, however, is another story! You love our bedtime routine and fall asleep so easily I often wonder what I am doing wrong at nap time.
I know you love water. You love the sound of running water, and most of all, you love bath time. Your first bath at home, you never woke up (why we would have bathed you and risked waking a sleeping baby, I’m not sure). You were so peaceful, and my heart was so full. I think I took a hundred pictures that night. At every bath time you are always so content! You will sit there and let me pour cups of warm water over you while you smile up at me. I can’t wait to take you swimming.
That is just a small piece of who you are—the you that is constantly growing and changing every day, and I can’t wait to learn more and more about you. Twelve weeks, the three months that seemed so long, suddenly isn’t long enough. It is a constant battle within my mind, trying to decide what is right for us to do, and right now that battle is pointing me towards returning to work, as much as it pains me to leave. These battles are the hardest part of being a mom—the quiet, hidden guilt that seems to lurk behind every hard decision, no matter what you choose.
Will I be able to be a fully functioning employee right now? My mind is so frazzled with laundry and diapers and bottles and pumping and schedules, how could I possibly work, too? What if I get no sleep and forget a meeting? What if I start working again and realize I can no longer do it?
But more importantly, what if I’m not making the right decision? What if this hurts our bond? What if we struggle to continue breastfeeding? What if something happens to you outside of my care? What if I miss your first laugh, your first word, your first step? What if, what if, what if…
Tomorrow I go back to work, and my heart is so full, yet so heavy. I pray every night for God to help me: help me to determine if this really is what is best for our family, for me, and for you. For me to find the best care I can for you while I am gone. And for that caretaker to love you as much as I do.
Twelve weeks, three months, seemed like forever at the time. Sure, some days it did feel like forever. There were days I couldn’t wait for your dad to get home because I hadn’t eaten, you hadn’t napped, I hadn’t showered, and I was pretty sure I was going to lose it… if the piles of dishes and laundry didn’t overtake me first. But I wouldn’t change that time for anything, because even one smile from you made the day worth it. I loved how you fell asleep in my arms, and your delight in rocking in our chair while I sang or read to you. I’m still not sure how three months have already passed. A quarter of your first year. I guess that’s parenthood, though, isn’t it? “The days are long but the years are short.” I want to cherish the time I have with you, and I want it to never end. I’ve been trying to not let the pain of the clock ticking down put a damper on your sleepy smiles in the morning or the peaceful nights spent rocking in your nursery.
You can believe I have soaked up every moment with you that I could. While you may never remember, I will never forget.
While this decision did not come lightly, I want you to know that I will continue to pray for guidance and do what I believe is best in each season of our lives. I have faith that as a mother, I will do what I truly believe is best for you. I want you to know how special this time was to me. You can believe I have soaked up every moment with you that I could. While you may never remember, I will never forget. I will forever be thankful for this time; you taught me the deepest form of love, a whole new level of multitasking, and I’m amazed I’ve been given the privilege to see you grow and watch the world through your eyes. While you may never remember these days, I hope the love we have grown, and continue to grow, will be evident throughout your life.
So, tomorrow I may go back to work, but it will not be the same, because I am not the same. You have forever changed me, and I see everything just a little bit differently because of you. Thank you for this time together, and you can bet I will be rushing home to you every chance I get.
Ladies, tell me—did you decide to return to work? Was it a difficult choice? What did you do to ease the transition for the both of you?