I am not the first or the last Mom to experience this, but in my world it’s completely new and I am so emotional.
My Maternity Leave is over. George turned 10 weeks old last Thursday and I go back to work today and have to find our new norm.
I have all the feels about it. If I’m completely honest with myself, I don’t feel ready. However, I feel excited to get back to switching on the microphone and presenting my radio show. Catch 22.
I feel guilty for leaving George, yet I feel guilty for leaving my career for so long (not so long) and then I feel guilty for wanting my career, so that’s a vicious circle. I feel like a bad Mom, but then I feel like maybe I’m being a good Mom too, by eventually showing him what hard work and working towards your passion looks like.
George has been a part of me, not only in my tummy for 37 weeks and 1 day, but from the minute he was born 10 weeks and 3 days ago, he and I have been inseparable. The way he curls up on my chest, or the way he grins at me when we lock eyes, he is a part of my heart and soul and I never expected the love I have to be this tangible. I’ve felt separation anxiety when I’ve taken an hour for myself to either go to the doctor or guiltily to have my hair done. We haven’t been apart for longer than 2 hours and I don’t know how I’m going to be apart from him for longer than that. My boobs also ache just thinking about it.
Maternity Leave is not a “break”… I love those who ask “Have you had a nice break?” Ha! It’s sleepless days that turn into nights, it’s your world as you know it being turned upside down, but in the best possible way. I mean it. It’s the hardest (most rewarding) job (I finally get what that means!) because unlike anything else, it’s the one thing you cannot procrastinate in. You can’t “get to it” tomorrow or in a few hours from now, because you “need a break or don’t feel like it right this minute.” They’re demanding and you do each thing to the best of your ability and with so much love you might burst. You give 200% of yourself 24/7 and whilst it’s exhausting, you wouldn’t have it any other way.
I am extremely lucky with my working hours, however there is a lot of behind the scenes stuff that goes on that no one gets to see. When people hear I’m going back to work their first reaction is: “What!!?? So soon?” which doesn’t help at all… and then it’s: “At least it’s only 3 hours.” I laugh at the thought that I only work 3 hours a day just because those are the hours of my radio show. I do understand though, because that’s essentially all that people hear.
I produce and present the afternoon drive show on Smile 90.4 FM and there is a lot of work and research, that I love, that goes into that. Admittedly, my hours are still better than a full 9-5 or 8-6.
In the morning, at home, besides looking after George and expressing every 3 hours, with every other feed a breastfeed, I’ll have to make the time to do show prep, which can take a few hours of research and putting it all together. If I have voice overs or meetings I’ll leave earlier, but ordinarily, I will leave home at 13:30 to get to the studio an hour before – 2pm. I’ll co-host the show from 3-6pm and then get home by 18:30, which is just in time for bath time and the full night schedule.
I am really looking forward to going back, to seeing my co-host Maurice Carpede again and having fun and laughs on the show. I’m looking forward to seeing all my colleagues – we are one big family, to switching on the microphone because it brings me such joy, and I’m looking forward to researching news and talking about adult things, as opposed to the colour of poo and which washing powder gets stains out. I have to admit, I do find these new “mommy” conversations equally as interesting though. I’ve learned so much in the last few weeks and up-skilled so much, it’s crazy. Up-skilled by changing nappies (I’d never done it before), avoiding being pee’d on (still learning), how to do things with one hand only, how to shower in record time and organizational packing skills that would have Martha Stewart impressed.
Seems straight forward, but in reality I now face the challenge that every working Mom faces. How to balance it all. I don’t know how I’m going to go for 5 hours without expressing milk – if I go longer than 3 hours, my milk ducts block and I get really sore, hard breasts. I’ll definitely have to wear breast pads for possible milk leakage. I don’t know how I’ll leave the house at exactly 13:30 in case he’s feeding or something unforeseeable happens. I don’t know how I’m going to carve time out to sit on my laptop at home and do the research and planning. In my head I’ll be doing this while he sleeps, which seems to be less and less lately. Thanks Murphy! Time will tell and I’m going to do my best to juggle and hopefully not drop any balls.
I was talking to some inspiring girlfriends who are working Moms and they all said the greatest challenge is finding time for everything, whilst making sure you do it all exceptionally well too. Eeek. Find time to do your work brilliantly and build your career, find time to exercise (ha!) , find time to look after your babies needs, find time for your family, your friends and your husband. Find time for your spirituality, oh and don’t forget to find time for yourself too.
I do feel like going back to work, will make me a better Mom. I’m working to ensure George can always have what he needs, to inspire a good work ethic, to be well rounded and my missing him, is only going to make me want to be even better for him.
I don’t have this all figured out yet, but as time goes on I’ll find our groove and make it work, because that’s what we do.
Today I feel like a bad Mom, even though I know I am a good Mom and still learning. Mom Guilt is real, and whilst it’s not helpful at all, it’s something you can’t just make go away. But… as time goes on and we make this work, that will lessen and our new norm will become a happy routine.