I think every new mum expects MAT leave to last a lifetime. A whole year off, no interruptions. But when that back to work feeling looms over you the night before your first day, imagine every Sunday mushed together into one and those huge, ugly butterflies aching in the pit of your stomach. That isn't to say that I wasn't looking forward to going back, becoming a whole adult person once again, but there was a number of emotions overshadowing my initial response.
The interview: I was thrilled. I was on MAT leave from a current position, but during my time off I had applied for one other role that I desperately wanted. I interviewed for the job and was offered it all in the same day. I spent the rest of the hours left of that said day, crying with happiness. I knew that I would be leaving my son each day to go to a place of work that made a difference, that gave back to the world rather than being a pen pusher in an office. I loved my old job and the people that worked there but it just wasn't a puzzle piece that fit right for our new family jigsaw!
The weeks leading up to work: emotional. I will admit quite openly that I cried a lot. More so at how lucky I was to have been at home with my son every day since the day he was born, watching him grow and change, experiencing all his firsts and teaching him the world. Isn't it funny that an impending change can make you actually start to appreciate the things that you may lose? Not lose in my case but a reduction in hours lets say. Like I'm being made redundant from being a full-time mum!! There is a quote out there. somewhere in the atmosphere, suggesting that every morning we should think about those in the world going through hard times as it will make us live a better and more full life. Don't want for things you don't have, but be grateful for the things you do have. And I must say, those weeks leading up to my start date I definitely made the most of my time with Theo. Every bath time was a blessing, meal times were spent at the table, breakfast lunch and dinner, story time was that much longer and hugs were that much harder.
I also found the lead up to my first day challenging because we were booked to go to Florida for two weeks. I spent these amazing two weeks away with my family in a gorgeous, hot country and then the day after I got back I was thrown into two weeks, full time training, nine to five! It was like some sort of satirical irony.
The eve of: calm. And I was calm. Still to this day, I'm not sure whether it was a facade but I didn't shed a single tear nor think a negative thought. I just got my stuff ironed and organised Theo's clothes/food for my Dad for the next day. Kindly, my Dad agreed to be Theo's minder while I'm away which is working wonderfully for us so far. They adore each other so it does make it a lot easier to leave him. Although I'm sure my Dad has now sprouted a few more gray hairs!
7 weeks on: happy... most of the time. I have very mixed feelings about it at the moment. I absolutely love my job, wholeheartedly I look forward to going in every shift but I often find it challenging when leaving Theo. Initially, he barely bat an eyelid when I left. But as the weeks started to pass I noticed a slight change. Now whether this is because I've gone back to work or just because he's getting older and wiser, who knows. But he's started to play favourites. In one breath, he will be sobbing for me, standing at my feet, vying for my attention then in the next he'll be pushing off me, fighting tooth and nail to get to his Daddy. I find it the hardest when I come back from a shift and he refuses to come to me; I know what everyone will say, because they've said it, he still loves me (I know) and it's no measure on what I've done for him as a mother (I know...) but god damn, it's like a dagger to the heart! I now understand why parents use that old cliched line: "you wait until you have your own children" because it is so true. Children make you question yourself like no one else. I would like to think I am strong in nature but Theo does something to me that no other soul has done before and I often struggle. I don't know many mum's that openly talk about this, whether it be that it doesn't happen to them or whether it's one of those things that they like to keep locked away at home, for no one to see, as if their life is 2 point 4. But I'm here for the good, the bad and the ugly. My life isn't a highlight reel and as family, we do have our down moments!