Back to Work Anxiety: T’was the Night Before the Last Day of Maternity Leave

All good things must come to an end…

One more day until my maternity leave is over.  The thought of it makes me sick to my stomach.  I have incredible anxiety and for lack of a better word, I’m sad.  Just thinking about it makes me cry.  I have cried so much over the past 2 weeks thinking about everything I am going to miss when I am not with my two little ones all day every day.  I shouldn’t be complaining.  I am fortunate and blessed to live in a country that offers mothers an entire year for maternity leave.  Because Mr. C was born 5 weeks before my return-to-work date after having Miss M, I have been home for almost 2 years straight.  I am grateful for this opportunity.  I am lucky.  I am blessed… but it doesn’t make returning to work  any easier.

Since both of my little ones were born, I have been there when they have waken up in the morning, with them all day and tucked them into bed at night.  Miss M is almost 2 and I still haven’t even left her over night and can count on both hands how many times I have left them at all.  Going back to work and missing their days is going to be hard.  I’m just so sad.  Living  every day during the week in the routine of waking them up, dropping them off at daycare and then picking them up with just enough time to feed them dinner, play for a bit and then bathe them and put them to bed just seems like I’m going to be missing so much.

Today Miss M said the word “please” for the first time.  I was so proud of her but then got choked up thinking about missing her next words.  She was feeling tired and climbed onto my lap, curling up in the sweetest little ball and I felt bad knowing that my lap would be far away when she needs to do that next week.  Today Mr. C stood on his feet without holding onto anything for almost 10 seconds!  It was amazing!  I was so proud but then immediately wondered if I would end up missing his first steps while I am at work.  This afternoon he was extremely cranky and miserable and I wondered if another human being could possibly have the patience I have for him when he gets really fussy.  He also fell down and bumped his head and when I ran over, scooped him up and held him tightly against my chest, kissed his head and comforted him, I realized that this time next week, I won’t be there when he gets hurt and needs me and it won’t be me comforting him and making him feel better.

I realized I only get to make and eat lunch with them one more time, tomorrow.  They only get to go down for naps in their own bed one more time until it only happens on the weekend.  They only get to spend their week days in their bright, sunny play area for one more day.  As much as I know I have to go back to work and that it will be good for me and good for them, I just wish I didn’t have to go.  I wish I could just stay home and be the one to cuddle them and play with them and kiss their bumps and bruises and see their smiles and witness their every day.  I know I can’t.

While we have managed to live off of one income for the past 11 months, it can’t continue.  We only survived it because we knew there was an end date.  We owe it to ourselves to have a second income so money won’t be so tight, we can go on vacations, buy new clothes, save money for our kids’ educations and our retirement and so our kids can play sports and not be limited or deprived of anything because of our finances.  Pay cheques will be an exciting change as our lives transform from stay-at-home mama/house wife to commuting, working mama.  It will affect all of us.  A lot.  The kids will survive and be fine.  They might even be better off.  They will be in good hands.  I am fortunate that my mom runs a home daycare so our babies will have the best of both worlds, being cared for by grandparents who love them but being around other children their age as well.  I am really excited for them to make new friends, learn how to socialize, share, play with other kids and become a little bit independent of me.  It’s me that is going to have a hard time.  And Hubby too.

Last week I told my husband that I’m actually pretty nervous as well as anxious about returning to work.  He was quick to dismiss my feelings, telling me it was going to be great.  Great?  It’s not going to be great.  It’ will most likely be better and easier than what I am picturing in my head but it’s not going to be great.  He sincerely tried to reassure me by telling me that he is excited.  EXCITED?  He elaborated by saying that when he met me I was career-oriented and business-savvy and now I am domesticated, a good wife and a good mom.  When I go back to work, I get to be all of those things.  Way to overwhelm me!  While it might be exciting to my husband to have me be all of those things… THAT IS A CRAP LOAD OF PRESSURE!

I always jokingly say that I don’t think I have time to work.  There is some truth to it though.  Being a working mom, and a working mom who commutes 2 hours a day just to get to/from work is going to be a challenging adjustment.  I am already anticipating the immense pressure of being a good wife, a good mother to two beautiful, little babies, maintaining a clean, somewhat organized house, cooking meals, doing mountains of laundry while somehow working 40+ hours/week, commuting 10+ hours/week and being successful at my career.  Just the thought of it is exhausting.  I already feel like I can’t keep up with the demands of my life and don’t know where I’m going to get those 50+ hours/week from to pull off a career.  It makes me tired and stressed just thinking about it.  I’m sure that we will get into a routine and it will get easier but even that is bittersweet to me.  It makes me sad to think of it becoming easy and routine for my kids to not spend their precious, preschool days with me and me with them.  I don’t want it to be easy or routine for me to miss out on all of those special, little moments of their preschool days.  There are only so many days that they are home to play and laugh and cuddle and climb and run and build before they are in school full time.  I feel so sad to be missing them.  I also feel guilty.  Before I became a mother, no one ever told me how many minutes, hours and days I would spend feeling guilty.  Guilty for not doing enough.  Guilty for not spending enough time.  Guilty for making the wrong decisions.  I have spent a year feeling guilty over the things we couldn’t do with our kids or buy for our kids because we didn’t have the money.  Now I am returning to work to put us in a better spot financially and I feel guilty for that too.

I am afraid of being able to pull it all off.  I don’t want to be tired, burned out and stressed at work or at home.  I can’t let my work suffer nor can I let my family suffer.  I don’t know if I can do it all but know that I have to and that scares me.  I’m also afraid of being exhausted.  There are many nights in this house that I don’t get very much sleep as babies take turns waking up during the night needing a bottle, a change or a cuddle.  There are many mornings where I feel like I can barely function.  I am terrified of nights like that when I have to drive on the highway for an hour just to get to work.  Sleep deprivation is no different than drunk driving.  I am afraid of those sleepless nights on work nights.  I will have to lean on my husband more and accept that I can’t do it all.  It will be a juggle but we will get through it.

It will be fine.  The unknown is always more scary.  I don’t know how it is going to work.  I’m sure it will work out but I don’t know how just yet because I haven’t done it.  Getting through that first day will at least calm my nerves a bit and make the anxiety subside as it will eliminate some of the unknown.

It’s not going to be easy.  It’s bittersweet.  At the same time as I am crying over everything (good and bad) that I am going to miss out on with my kids, I am also excited about wearing real clothes (Yes Hubby, you’re right!  I could have worn real clothes all year but didn’t.  I KNOW!), talking to grown-ups, using my brain (I really, really hope I can dust off the cobwebs and get this old brain to work!) and solving real problems.  I just wish there were an extra 10 hours in the day or that I didn’t need to sleep so I could just work while my kids were sleeping and never miss a thing while they never knew I was gone.  That’s not too much to wish for, right?

I will be savouring every delicious second of tomorrow.  Every cuddle.  Every cry to be picked up.  Every giggle.  Every part of the day spent with my two little bundles of love.  I’m going to try not to cry tomorrow.  I want it to be a good day.  I want it to be the best last day of maternity leave ever.

In the meantime, I’m seeking out words of encouragement, virtual hugs and advice from working moms (and dads) who have made the work/home juggle work and are doing it and making it look easy every day.  How did you survive the first day?  When did it get easier?  Any tips?  I’m also looking for healthy and delicious quick-to-prepare dinner ideas and slow cooker recipes.  Oh…and when the heck do you do all of your laundry?  And while I sob over my keyboard, typing these words, my awesome hubby has run out to buy us a lottery ticket.  I once had an incredible plan to win the lottery ticket before my maternity leave was up.  I never managed to buy a ticket so that sort of ruined that plan.  Here’s hoping we win!

Cheers to all the working mamas!  You are strong, organized, humble and fabulous people who make juggling a family and a career look easy!  I’m really hoping I can pull it off and make it look as easy as you do!

andbabymakes3imean4 is one mom’s adventures while tap dancing on the brink of insanity with 2 babies, 11 months apart.  If you enjoyed this post, please follow my blog or like my page on facebook to be the first to know of future posts. Thanks for reading! xo

4 thoughts on “Back to Work Anxiety: T’was the Night Before the Last Day of Maternity Leave

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