Back to Work is a series of posts dedicated to the good the bad and everything in between for a mom returning to work following a year on maternity leave. Did you miss part 1? Click here to read Already Time.)
Part 2: My first day back…
6:30 a.m. I am woken up by the sound of my 3-year-old daughter’s feet padding up the stairs to our bedroom. I do not dare move a muscle or open my eyes as I feel her looking up over the side of the bed. If I pretend I am sleeping, my husband will take care of her. One Mississippi, two mississipi, three mississ… “Layla, go pee”. I have tricked them both – or I have proven that I am more stubborn than my husband – either way, it worked! Brandon gets up to take her to the bathroom and stick her in front of the morning cartoons so we can catch another 20 to 30 minutes of sleep before the day begins. I fall back into a restless sleep.
7:00 a.m. The baby starts to stir and I look over at the alarm clock. No more snoozing, it is time to get up! Thankfully I am more organized than usual. I took care of all the big stuff last night. Thank God Brandon starts work later than me and is around to feed and dress the girls. If I had to do more than get myself ready, I would have to be up at least 30 minutes earlier and I love my sleep!
7:30 a.m. As we finish up our breakfast, Layla looks up at me with a quizzical look – “Mamma?”, “yes sweetie?”, “Are you going to work upstairs today?”, “yes, sweetie”, … “yaaaaaay! I like that.” And she goes back to her peanut butter toast. I smile and I am sure I have tears in the corners of my eyes. She has no idea how much her words warm my heart. I am so lucky to have my girls in the daycare on site at work. So lucky.
8:15 a.m. After dropping the girls off at daycare and getting in some extra hugs and kisses, I walk into my department. I look around, hoping to find a familiar face but I quickly find out that I am alone. People are either gone for coffee or have not arrived yet. What to do? Another coffee? Why not?!
9:00 a.m. Everyone seems to give me a look of pity as they say some version of “welcome back” or ask if I am happy to be back. Am I happy to be back? Yes and no. I know there are things I will enjoy about working outside the home, but I would be lying if I said there was not a part of me that would rather still be in my pajamas playing on the living room floor!
10:00 a.m. I have done the rounds, have been assigned an office and can log into my e-mail. It is really quite remarkable how much junk mail accumulates in a year.
12:00 p.m. Lunch. This is one of the perks of working outside the home. Lunch is literally equal to “girl time”. Sure, we spend most of our time talking about our kids and how cute, smart, amazing and/or frustrating they are… but it is uninterrupted adult conversation. It almost seems like a foreign concept but it feels great.
1:00 p.m. I meet with my supervisor. She is ecstatic to have me back. It almost makes me suspicious… but I appreciate feeling needed. If I am going to work and be away from my girls, it is important for me to feel needed.
2:00 p.m. I go through files and follow, from one meeting to the next, the person who has been replacing me. I am discovering what has changed (and what has not changed) since I last did this job. I realize that I have not actually done “my” job in three years because I was on special assignment between my two maternity leaves. Weird.
3:00 p.m. Time for another coffee.
4:00 p.m. More files. More conversations. More catching up. My day is almost done and it has been particularly calm and uneventful. Where are the little hands pulling on me to be picked up? Oh yeah, they are downstairs in the daycare – and I will see them soon.
4:15 p.m. I have done my time. I quickly gather my stuff, switch off my computer and speed walk out of my office and down the stairs in direction of the daycare.
4:17 p.m. Meaghan greets me with “Mamamamamamama”, a huge smile on her face and her arms outstretched (This definitely ties with Layla’s comment at breakfast for my favorite moment of the day!).
4:19 p.m. Layla is just about to go outside to play and is not thrilled to see me arriving. It takes a little convincing, but soon we are all on our way home. We talk about her day and sing songs the whole way.
4:40 p.m. We pull into the driveway. Brandon is already home and comes out the front door to help me with the girls. Everyone is smiling. This is what life is about. Is it not?
4:45 p.m. What was my plan for supper again? I grab the salmon from the fridge and throw together a quick dinner in less than 25 minutes. After dinner we walk the dog together and before you know it is time to get the girls ready for bed.
7:45 p.m. Have I really been home for three hours? It felt like two at the most. The girls are both in bed. I look around… time to clean up, shower, get my clothes ready for tomorrow, …
9:45 p.m. I think I am done doing everything I wanted to do. Except… I meant to sit and relax at some point this evening. And I meant to enjoy a nice big glass of wine while I sat and relaxed.
10:00 p.m. Forget the glass of wine. I am pooped and it is time for bed!
… So what do you think? It was a fairly successful first day back but will it continue to go so smoothly, will I maintain the routine of getting things done the night before? Or not…? Watch for “Part 3: Balance?” where I will share my ideas for finding balance, being efficient on the job, managing the home well, spending important quality time with the husband and kids AND somehow finding time for me.