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.

2 Comments on “Maternity leave: the best of times and the worst of times

  1. This was a great post for me! My LO is 5 weeks and there are definitely “bad” and “good” days!! But thankfully the good outweigh the bad.

  2. I totally agree — most days are the first list, but occasionally a day worthy of the second list creeps in. We all have days like that, despite our circumstances. The key is to focus on the good. We're a lucky bunch!

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