This past week I bid a sad, fond farewell to my maternity leave. I began working from home, logging hours during naps, after bedtime, and occasionally during Alice's & my playtime. It's been a real struggle - Alice hasn't yet established a set schedule (or we haven't created one for her), so figuring out the best time to attend meetings, head downtown, and try to get focused work done has been difficult. That said, I'm utterly grateful to have this time with her.
For most of my life, I've had two versions of my future - one is me working full-time while raising a family, finding tremendous pleasure in pursuing an ambitious career; one is of me working full-time as a stay-at-home mom, spending the days with my kids, managing a tightly-run home. I always assumed that I would prefer the former to the latter, largely, I think, because that's how I was raised. My mom somehow managed to be an ever-present part of my growing up while continuing to pursue a professional career. And yet, now that it is time for me to head back into the working world, I'm realizing that maybe this isn't the path I would choose, if given the option.
I think I'm mostly worried about becoming so harried with the day-to-day that I lose pleasure in raising and caring for my family. This maternity leave has been such a profoundly wonderful time. Even on bad days, when I can't get Alice to settle down, when nothing goes as planned, when strangers yell at me, I feel like I'm doing the most important work of my life. I'm not dreaming of Saturday, counting down the seconds until I can be somewhere else. I'm happy where I am, savoring each day with my baby. Truthfully, it's never like this when I'm working - even though I really love and enjoy my job.
I don't want to whine about this, because I'm going back to work for a fabulous group of people, in a somewhat flexible work environment. My colleagues love and dote on my daughter, and they will be so supportive of our expanding family. The work I do is meaningful, for the most part, and it is an exciting time to be where I am. But I have never been as happy there as I am when I see this beautiful smiling baby girl looking up at me.
I'm sure I'll find a balance, somewhere along the line. And perhaps this smile will remind me to forget about the grind and remember the love that defines me.
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