Today is my first day back at work. Before you offer me a tissue, I am actually very happy about it.
I have been on a maternity leave for 1 year with my son. I have enjoyed the time and feel lucky that my country allows me to take a year of leave. I feel a little nervous about heading back, but overall I am looking forward to going back to work.
This can be a hot button issue for new moms. I know that some new mothers will read this and be completely mystified about why I would want to return to work and put my son in daycare. They will stay home for a variety of reasons. Some will go back to work, but count the minutes until they can return to their kids. I am not this person. I make no judgements about how you decide to care for your children, but I don’t think I am going to be the mom crying in the car after dropping her son off at daycare on my first day of work. I want to go back to work, and I don’t feel bad about it.
Let me explain:
First, I am not cut out to be a stay at home parent. Anyone who does this is super impressive to me, but I know in my heart that it is just not something I can do for the long term.
Why? There are a variety of reasons for this, but the biggest one is that I am a huge extrovert, who needs daily adult interaction in order to maintain my mental health. I also know that I will not do well with always being the main caregiver. I think, eventually, it may start to affect my marriage. A return to work for me will mean that my husband will take on the morning routine, which helps to balance our workloads again.
Secondly, my job isn’t just a job to me. It is part of my identity. It is part of my self-worth. I have spent 5 years in university, plus 20 odd years perfecting the skills necessary to do my job as a music teacher, plus 8 years doing the job and only NOW do I feel like I have really hit my stride. It took this long to get good at it, and I am not ready to give it up. I know many people give up teaching and return to it later, but the teaching job market in Toronto is rather dismal at the moment. This year there are 100 teachers in my school board who have been laid off after many years of hard work. If I give it up now I will not get my job back. After all, there is a huge list of people waiting for it.
Thirdly, going back to work means I get a little piece of myself back. I went from being an active teacher, who played in a band and had just finished a graduate degree to doing none of those things. In going back to work, I get a little piece of me back. I get to remember who I was before I had a kid. I get to remind myself that I have skills, talent and ideas. I get to actually accomplish things (well sort of, I work with teenagers). I want to finish my sentences, eat my lunch and feel like I am doing the work I am good at, so I am happy to be going back to work.
Lastly, and most importantly, I know my son will be okay. He will be learning lots about trust, social skills and routine from daycare. Will I miss him? Of course! Will I think about him during the day? Yes. But, I am under no illusions that I am the only one who cares about him or can care for him. Yes, I may miss a milestone, but I will still get to see him grow, change and develop. I am just leaning on my village a bit more. And you know what? It feels pretty good.
Anyone else happy to go back to work?