Maternity leave: the best of times and the worst of times
I’ve been trying to organize my thoughts on maternity leave for a while now.
It’s hard, because some days I am bursting with love and contentment and yayyyy for being on maternity leave, and other days I am a crumpled mess of this-sucks-so-bad-ness.
So here are both sides. The real deal.
Most days you feel:
- Blessed to be able to spend this time with your baby
- Relaxed because you are not rushing out the door to be at work by nine
- Happy to take care of your baby and meet their needs
- Comfortable in clothes that you want to wear
- Satisfied by eating meals you want to eat, and not a gross lunch that was packed in a hurry
- Content to call your own shots, and organize your time
- Fun, getting to act like a kid and teach your baby to play
- Grateful to see, photograph and document your baby’s milestones
- Accomplished, because you are checking things off your to-do list
- Proud of your home and how you’re taking care of everything
But there are other days when you feel:
- Trapped at home, away from the outside world
- Lonely for adult conversation, and disconnected from the other people in your life
- Tired from long days and longer nights
- Bored by the same activities, day in and day out
- Insulted by people who don’t think what you’re doing is “work”
- Frazzled by being the baby’s sole caregiver
- Overwhelmed by laundry, dishes, cooking, cleaning
- Jealous of everyone out socializing, taking coffee breaks, going out to lunch
- Annoyed that people assume you watch The Young and the Restless in your sweats*
- Worried people resent you because they have to go off to work, and you get to stay home
*It’s actually Toddlers in Tiaras in yoga pants. Got a problem with that?
I’m glad that I do feel like the first list most days. Not every day, but most days.
When I feel the things on the second list, I used to feel disappointed in myself. Disappointed that I was unhappy. Disappointed that I was anything except over the moon to be at home with my baby. This was what I wanted all along. Why wasn’t I happy all the time?
Lately, I have been trying to remind myself that there are good days, and there are bad days.
I’m not a bad mother if I have a shitty day on maternity leave. I’m not a bad mother if I feel down sometimes about being stuck at home alone with the baby. I’m not a bad mother if there is food on the floor and dishes in the sink and the baby is cranky and I just want to drop everything and cry. It’s just a bad day.
Because the next day? I’ll be singing kiddie songs off-key while I dance around the living room with the baby. I’ll be laughing as he makes funny faces and throws his arms around me. I’ll be putting my peaceful baby down for a nap, proudly surveying my clean home, and then relaxing with a cup of tea.
It will be a good day.