This upcoming Monday, after 289 days at home, I go back to work. My share of the parental leave is over and Sean will be taking over as the stay-at-home parent role. People keep asking me “How do you feel?” and “Are you ready? or “Do you think Sean is up to the task of staying home with Flora?”
Those are really big questions. And they don’t have easy, one-word answers.
I have mixed feelings about going back to work. On the whole, I’m excited to be joining the world at large again. I’m looking forward to seeing my colleagues. Back in April, I treated myself to a new work wardrobe using the money from my tax return, and I’m looking forward to putting it in action. (I watched a lot of What Not to Wear during the early days of constant nursing and I decided that I was going to try and dress a little better. I suppose I’m trying to defy the “slummy mummy” stereotype.) I’m also looking forward to going out for lunch again. I work in an area which has a great variety of restaurants offering takeout meals of varying prices and I’ve missed more than a few of my favourites. I’m even excited about the work itself, if you can believe it. For the first little while at least, it’ll probably be fun as I get back into the groove. However like most office drones, I’ll know I’ve settled in when I start complaining about stupid stuff along with everyone else.
While I’m generally happy about returning to work, I’m sad that I won’t be able to be with Flora all day. I’ve been pleasantly surprised at how much I have enjoyed being a stay-at-home mum. We have our little routines down pat, and I know I’m going to miss them when we’re separated from each other. I know that I’m now joining the world of “working parents” (in quotes because I know stay-at-home parents work too): I will now always be stretching and compromising to accommodate everything and everyone in my life, and there will never be enough time. I just hope that I can manage the challenges with grace, flexibility and humour. I also hope that I pay attention during the good times so that I can remember that they do exist, and replicate them when things get tough.
Despite the fears and anxieties that I’m sure all mums get when they’re leaving their babies to return to work, I feel ready to return. I just hope I still feel ready when I don’t have complete control over how Flora spends her day. Sometimes I have a hard time remembering that just because Sean does things differently than I do, doesn’t mean he is doing them wrong. I’m working on that. I trust Sean and I know that the two of them will enjoy their time together. I’m proud of Sean for taking parental leave. I feel thankful – and lucky – knowing that during my first couple of months back at work, Flora will be spending most of her time with her daddy. It will be so good for both of them, and they will have so much fun. I can’t wait to see the pictures and video of the tomfoolery they get into together.
So yes. A lot of big feelings. It’s a big situation – I think they’re justified.