Maternity Leave is Over…Now what?!

That’s it, it’s done. I have been back at work since November 18th and as of February 10th, 2014 I am still drowning.

Let’s start with some happy background info…I had a rough pregnancy and worked till a mere 10 hours before I went into labor. Labor “au naturale” with a nearly 9 pound boy was rough and long, but the end result was WELLLLLL worth it!! On August 23, 2013 at 5:49PM, my husband, older son, and I welcomed the beautiful, happy, and spunky Greyson Timothy into this world at a whopping 8lbs 13oz and 21inches long. “Baby Grey”, has been nothing short of a delight since the day he arrived and has added more love to our household than I can express to you here. He is the spitting image of his father (much like his older brother), but has my dark hair (which is now getting lighter). He is literally a love sponge and gets fatter and sweeter by the day!! As it has been with my older son, Mateo, it is a privilege and a pleasure to be his mother and my heart is exploding (this feeling varies depending on how many/how intense the tantrum my big one is throwing haha).

But, let’s get back to my original point that I’ve come here to express to you all…

Yes, the sad truth is I have been a hot ‘ol mess since returning to work. My guilt consumes everything I do. Literally every single time I sit down to pump I get teary eyed without fail. I miss my kids from 8am to 6pm. I want to wear them when I’m home because I feel so sad without them during the day. I think they are suffering even though they probably aren’t, but I am suffering for sure. I’m insane, but I’m tired and stressed…is that a good excuse?

Like I’ve said a million times before, I stayed home till Mateo was 15 months, so he could walk, eat solid food, and was “independent” in a sense and even then I cried like an uncontrollable baby when I first returned to work. This time my son was only 12 weeks when I came back to work and I have been a combination of anxious/stressed/sad/sleepy since I’ve been back. In my mind leaving him so young will impact our bond. I feel so miserable that he needs to be bottle fed during the day (even though I have been fortunate enough to be able to pump), and that I miss naptime, and cuddling, and all baby related behavior 5 days a week.

Logically I know I have to work, I don’t do it for fun. I work so, “I can buy toys at ToysRUs”, according to my four year old. I work for the roof over our heads, the food in our bellies, the car we drive, and all the other things we need and want. BUT (and its a big but), I am sad, there’s just no way around it. Everyday Mateo asks me if I can please pick him up from school, if I can come to school like Nicholas’ mommy (his classmates mom who does lunch duty), and Greyson cries because he hates the bottle, and when he’s sick or irritable he just wants his Mom, and I can’t be there. I feel like work is making me miss out on the few precious years where they are home and pure and uncorrupted. I’m miserable…did I mention that already? Sigh..such is life right?

Before I had kids I never considered the difficulties or impact being a working mom would have on me, but I was 20 when I had my older son so all I was really worried about was the last minute paper I needed to do for college…I was also spoiled in the fact that I had a stay at home mom who even when I was at school was with me because she was the PTA Co-President. Now as a working mother there are so many things that I know I miss out on on a daily basis. I miss Greyson doing things for the first time, I miss Mateo’s school functions, I miss the opportunity to schedule play-dates with classmates, I miss speech therapy with my big guy, and I just plain ol’ miss being with them. Obviously there is after work and the weekend, but after work is homework, bottle sterilizing, chores, dinner, packing lunch, and after that’s all done it’s 9pm (sometimes later)…no joke! Weekends are a blur of doing all the things I can’t do during the week and maybe one fun activity squeezed in there. I need an extra two days added to the week…how do we arrange that?

I know it’s just me needing to come to terms with the way things have to be, but I wish it was different.

My older son goes to Catholic school for Pre-K and 90% of the moms are stay at home moms who drive luxury cars and gossip about everything. What’s worse? They heavily judge working moms…During after school pickup while I was on maternity leave I overheard one of Mateo’s classmates mom say, “Can you believe she’s having a third baby? How irresponsible is she? I mean she works, obviously she isn’t raising her kids!”. Upon hearing this I was outraged, I literally wanted to slap her! I don’t happen to know the mother she was speaking about, but I felt like I should defend her! How could she say that? Especially as the day before she had been telling that same mother how thrilled she was to have left her little one at home with her mom for a few hours! Maybe the mother likes to work or maybe she has to work, and most importantly it was none of her business!! After my fury wore off, I was just sad…I’m a working mom, I have received the “You poor thing..” comment and faces from the mom’s who asked me why I don’t do lunch duty or volunteer during the day. They’re judging me, they think I’m a crappy mom for working.

I love my job, I love my co-workers, I love my bosses, and I am so grateful that I have the opportunity to do what I do, and be surrounded by the people that I get to work amongst, but I love my babies most and that’s what causes the daily struggle.

I hope that my kids will know that I get up every morning and go to work for them and that everything I do is to enrich their lives. I hope that my absence doesn’t effect them or our relationship, and most people assure me it won’t, but it has had a much larger effect on me than I thought it ever would. There are a bazillion working moms I know and respect and that do an amazing job, so I’m confident that my kids will not turn out mutants as a result of my working (maybe for other reasons haha). I just wish I could kick this feeling.

Maternity leave was a blessing and a wonderful 3 months that I got to spend 24/7 with my kids. I enjoyed every single second of just being a mom and having the luxury of doing pick up and drop off at school and participating in school activities.  I also loved laying in bed with Grey watching “Kelly and Michael” in the morning after having had a post school drop off breakfast at my favorite bagel shop. In my perfect world I would be able to do this until Grey was in kindergarten or I’d work from home, but that is not my situation, so I have to learn to live with the cards I am dealt. I also have to be immensely grateful to the team I could not stay sane without…my mother (who is their primary caretaker), my husband’s father (Pazzie Man as he is known to our older son), and my Gommi (my outstanding, wonderful aunt). My mom goes above and beyond her call of duty and dedicates her days to my kids and everyone else, Tom (my husband’s father) does some school pickups and bi-weekly speech therapy trips with the big guy and is my son’s favorite playmate, while my aunt does babysitting so my mom can run errands here and there and gives Mateo his dose of arts and crafts fun, AND even cooks for me so I don’t have to once in a while. These are the people that make my struggle a little less difficult and without them my husband, my kids, and myself would be lost!!! They are my village!

At the end of the day I can’t change anything and I have to be thankful for the fact that everyday I have the opportunity to have two wonderful, healthy, and beautiful boys at home waiting for me with two giant smiles =]

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