On Returning to Work After Maternity Leave

“How was it returning to work after maternity leave?” Whether it be from co-workers or friends, this is the number one question that I get asked nowadays. My answer? It’s not what you’d think.Floral-Blazer_How-to-style-jean-shorts

…Or perhaps it is what you’d think. It’s not what I thought, at least. As a career-minded individual, before Grace was born, I thought that I’d welcome the return of work with open arms. I thought I’d come back ready to kick ass and take names. I’d waltz down familiar halls, computer in my hands, pen behind my ear, and jump right into things with open arms. I envisioned this scene with a feeling of pride. And while that setting has played out right on point, my inner monologue is different than what I imagined.

I didn’t realize how much I’d miss Grace.Em-and-GraceFor months, she was my constant sidekick. I brought her into this world, I held her during her first breaths, I cried with her during her first cry, and I smiled at her first smile. To take my baby and hand her over for someone else to care for is really hard.

It hit me on the first day back when her day care sent a photo of her being read a book, surrounded by new, adorable little friends. A sweet sentiment and yet there I was, fighting back tears. It was a strange dichotomy. On one hand I was ecstatic that she looked happy and was clearly being well cared for. But on the other hand, she was happy without me there. It sounds selfish when I type that, but it was truly an emotion rooted in selflessness.Layered necklaces, pregnancy styleBeyond this, though, the hardest part by far has been getting used to only seeing her a few hours a day during the week. If I leave by 5, I’m home by 5:45, and I’m lucky to get an hour in before she’s off to bed. My heart aches when I think of all the hours in her day that I miss.

Time has a funny way of making you realize that there’s never enough of it.

I realize this post may read as pessimistic, which I apologize for because this is a place that I try to keep positive. But, you know what? I also want to keep it real. And the real, honest truth is that going back to work has been pretty difficult. I like my job, I really do, but I love my baby.Good Vibes Only_Yellow-1All this is something that I’ve sugar coated when people ask me, but lately I’ve been wondering why. Why do I feel the need to smile and say, “Things are great! I love being back!” when the reality is that it’s taken some adjusting? What’s the shame in being honest with the difficulty that’s been this period of adjustment? When it comes down to it, I’m a human being more so than I’m an employee. And, these feelings are raw human emotions that I’m not ashamed to feel.

I want to be a career woman, I want to be respected as a mother who has taken on the challenge of working while raising a family, and I want to accomplish many goals and dreams. I want, and like, to work. But that doesn’t mean that I don’t have sadness in what it takes to continue on this path while having a family.Fashion blogger in Chicago_How to style scarves_Top US Fashion Blogger_Isnt That charming-12There’s a stigma in our culture that either you’re a stay at home mom or you’re a career woman. Either you go after your dreams, or your dreams are your children. But, I don’t believe that people are so black and white. There are plenty of career women who value beyond anything their family time and wish they could be there more during the day. And there are plenty of stay at home mothers who are strong, smart and driven, yet have chosen to halt their personal goals/careers on behalf of their kids. I give major kudos to both sides, because both have major benefits and drawbacks.

I don’t have a solution, nor do I have much more to divulge about the tales of my return. I like my job and will continue to perform to the best of my ability, but I’m sad that I have to leave my baby every day. It’s as simple and complicated as that.View More: http://cassandramonroe.pass.us/rainy-hair-tutorialsWill I ever be fully “adjusted”? Who knows. In the meantime, Monday through Friday, you can find me tripping over my own feet as I rush out of bed to wake my happy, sweet, smiling baby. You can find me rushing home after work to give her a big hug and play with her before bedtime. My happy hour is now found in a quiet nursery, lit by a soft night light, rocking my baby to sleep. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.


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11 thoughts on “On Returning to Work After Maternity Leave

  1. mandy

    raw and real! loved reading this post. even though i’m not a momma (and i give you such major kudos, em), i really liked your line: “I’m a human being more so than I’m an employee. And, these feelings are raw human emotions that I’m not ashamed to feel.” You own it. Thanks for the inspiration, for keeping it real, and most importantly, being truly you. 🙂 Gracie babe is so lucky to have you as her momma. xox

  2. Maria MacNamara

    Hi Emily! I read this last night and have been thinking about it ever since, as I just returned back to work a couple weeks ago. It’s been really, really hard – I’m struggling with it. Just to know that these feelings are normal and common helps me a lot, and I appreciate your honesty in sharing them here. Being at home with Caroline was the best four months of my life, and I miss her every minute we’re apart. Maybe that will go away when she’s a teenager. 🙂 There’s no easy choice to be made when it comes to working or staying at home, but it inspires me to see other women balance a job and motherhood, so thank you for sharing this!

  3. Jennifer Ross

    It does get better! I totally know how you feel. When I went back to work after my first it felt like I couldn’t breathe. It’s a daily battle to want to be home with your kids but struggle to have a career and it’s so hard to be a working mom but there is some light at the end of the tunnel! It will get easier over time and you will realize that no matter what you are her Momma and you will never be replaced in her eyes. I promise you when she’s a toddler you will have days where it will be a relief to go to work. Sounds awful but it’s true! Take Care of yourself!!!!!

  4. Michael Vander Beek

    I am really very proud of you and love seeing the love and joy in your voice and actions when you are with Grace. She is truly a lucky little girl. Your love for little Grace will only grow with time. It truly is a miracle.

  5. jillian

    i appreciate the honest post! sometimes i wonder how it would be if i went back to work full time. i stay at home with violet and i work part-time which can be pretty tricky but i am so glad im still working a little bit and “keeping” that part of me. hang in there mama, you just need to do what’s best for you and your family. even if it is hard. xoxo


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