Maternity Leave

I write this the night before my baby starts Daycare. That’s right, I used a capital letter, for this ominous word deserves to stand out.

How is it that a year has gone by, and the tiny little bundle I felt come into this world is now a crawling, babbling little person? How has this day I have been dreading come so fast?

Over the past couple of months, going back to work has been a topic of conversation among many of my Mom friends. I’ve been asking for advice wherever I can get it. When I approach the subject, I get a similar glazed look in response. Everyone has empathetic words and kind smiles, but I see the memory of their experience in their eyes. They remember the trauma and heartache they felt when they had to let go.

I have toured many daycares and see so many kids. They all seem too grown up. They are toddling about, playing games with each other. My little girl isn’t even one yet. She is still a baby. My baby. How could anyone possibly know how to take care of my baby. After twelve months together, I am the only one that truly knows her.

I am the only one who knows what it felt like to carry her inside me, waddling around and feeling her explore my womb. I am the only one who felt the pain and had contractions take me to places I never thought possible. I am the only one whose heart broke into a million sparkly pieces when I first saw her and realized I will forever be someone’s Mom. I’m the only one who wandered bleary eyed through the world for months, religiously attached to a pump so she would get every drop that I could make. I am the only one who cried seemingly endless tears when, in the end, it just wasn’t enough. I am the only one whose heart skipped a beat when the words Mama escaped her mouth for the very first time, and every single time thereafter. I’m the only one beamed with pride as I caught her taking her tentative first attempt at crawling and then wondered how I was supposed to shower after that. I’m the only one who has shared countless pieces of toast, and lavished being fed by chubby peanut butter caked fingers. I am the only one that has held her while she sleeps for longer then I need to, just so I can breathe in her scent. I’m the only one whose arms are the perfect genetic puzzle piece to cradle her head as I rock her to sleep.

I am the only one who knows it all, and it breaks my heart to let her go.

It is a constant battle between my instincts and rationality. I know this is the right thing for both of us. She needs to socialize, meet new kids and have experiences that I can’t give her when she is under my wing.

I know I need this too.

I need to drink coffee that is still hot and to go to the bathroom by myself. I need to remember that there are clothing options out there beyond yoga pants and snot covered hoodies. I need to branch out from the messy Mom bun and dust off my blow dryer and mascara. I need to shake the cobwebs from my head and use my brain again. I need to remind myself that I am an educated women with a Masters degree who can have adult conversations about things other than naptimes and the colour of poop. I need to re-enter the real world and embrace who I am, beyond the title of Mom.

With time, work and Daycare will become the new normal. Every day I will have something to look forward to as I countdown the hours to pick her up, imagining her toothy grin when I arrive to pick her up.  We will survive, but for now, if you need to find me, I’ll be at home, soaking up every single moment of our last few moments together.

 

If you are just starting out with childcare for your LO, have a read of the following 2 posts by our local Victoria ECE contributors Ashley & Courtney: 4 Tips to Follow When Finding Quality Childcare & 5 Things to Expect When Starting Childcare