Tomorrow marks an official end to my maternity leave. I can’t believe how quickly the last 11 months have flown. I can’t believe I’m now a mummy and I can’t believe I now have a daughter. Further still, I can’t believe I have been out of the office for 11 months and I can’t believe that I am actually going back tomorrow. I’m feeling ready for it, and im feeling prepared. Sort of. I don’t feel anxious about it, or excited or nervous. I don’t feel anything really. It all feels very calm and very surreal. But then so did being pregnant, and so did becoming a parent. It all just happens, and you get caught up in the moment, living it and experiencing it. Which captures perfectly how I’ve been feeling about life over the last few weeks. That it isn’t always grand gestures and it isn’t like a film. Life just happens. But it happens with perfect joie de vivre, and it is moments like these, the calm before the storm that I can take time to be still and reflect. Reflect on what an amazing 11 months I have experienced. Reflect on becoming a parent. Reflect on how much our family has grown. Reflect on the amazing family and friends we have. Reflect on how much fun the little lady and I have had. Reflect on how much love and joy I have in my heart. Reflect on how I have changed. Reflect on how I have grown and reflect on the exciting journey ahead. I think that it is this looking forward to our future, that has put me at such ease about going back to work tomorrow. Because I cant wait to see what this next chapter of our lives holds.
But for now, I probably need to focus on getting through the first day, so I have prepared in earnest after a rather disastrous practice run a few weeks ago. All our bags are packed. Our outfits picked out. Lunch bags made (after a mammoth batch cooking session today). Nails painted. Alarm set. I just have to hope that I remember to pick up my handbag rather than the changing bag, that I don’t forget to put some perfume on for the first time since christmas, and that I can still remember how to walk straight in heels. Heres to hoping. Wish me luck!
photo credit: Melissakis, H. via photopin cc
The strangest thing has happened. Whilst I have no desire to add to our little family any time soon, I miss being pregnant. I miss my bump. I know it probably sounds like im getting broody, but I promise you im not. I just miss the magic of it all. Each time I see another pregnant celebrity, or hear of a friend, colleague, or someone I know having a baby, I look back nostalgically on my pregnancy and I miss it fondly like it were a dear old friend. It’s so odd. Whilst I had a relatively easy pregnancy and actually enjoyed on the whole being pregnant, there were plenty of times, particularly towards the end that I was “done” with being pregnant. I got fed up of wearing the same dress or trousers three times a week. I got fed up of the night time peeing and the midnight snacks that my baby insisted on. I got fed up of not being able to sleep on my back, which was kind of funny considering I don’t even usually sleep on my back. So at the time I would never had said that I “loved” being pregnant. But now that im not pregnant, I kind of miss it. I miss those beautiful baby hiccups that the little lady seemed to get ALL the time. I miss the secret nudges and kicks from within that only I would know about. I miss watching my body change and grow. I don’t think I have ever felt so womanly and alive. It’s probably no accident that feeling like this coincides with my return to work next week. I do think part of it is the nostalgia of it all, but I do miss that feeling of contentment and happiness that comes from knowing that you are growing a tiny person inside of you. It is such a special time and I cant wait to experience it all over again. In the future. A long, long way in the future. But for now, the office and hopefully a career beckons..
photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/bies/107729240/”>bies</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/”>cc</a>
I’ve been holding onto an empty JoJo Maman Bebe box that one of the little lady’s gifts came in quite a few months ago. I don’t particularly know why I’ve been holding onto it other than I though it was quite nice. Today when I read New Young Mum’s blog I finally knew what I had been saving the box for – a treasure box of course! What is a treasury box I hear you ask. Well, it’s essentially a sensory box of everyday household objects that baby can explore and play with. The concept, based on the Montessori approach is to encourage learning through play.
Feeling instantly inspired, I ran around the house from room to room pulling open cupboards and drawers to find safe, yet interesting looking and feeling items for the little lady to get her hands on. Five minutes later, I had a treasure box our baby sensory teacher would have been proud of. The little lady definitely seemed to approve too. She absolutely loved taking each item out of the box over and over again, paying attention to a few of the items that piqued her interest. It managed to hold her interest for 10 – 15 minutes, which for a nine month old I think would be about right. I will definitely be trying out some of the other Treasure Box ideas that New Young Mum mentions in her blog. What a perfect Easter weekend activity!
Heres a sneak peak into our Treasure Box:
I have been waiting for today since last week. My first whole child free day. My first day to do whatever I so please. But now that it’s here it feels rather lackluster. I miss my little lady and its only 8am. The husband thought it would be a good idea to do a couple of childcare practice runs before I go back to work in just under two weeks. Even though she will be looked after by family and therefore we know she will be absolutely fine, he thought it made prudent sense to see just how the routine will work in practice. Its a good job we did.
Things did not get off to a good start. Not only did I forget to set an alarm this morning, but I forgot to charge my phone which meant this morning had no chance before it even began. I got up on time thanks to the husband who was anything but impressed, but got up feeling very much like I’d got out of the wrong side of the bed which meant that most of the morning was spent in a haze of confusion and tiredness. I neglected to set out the little lady’s clothes last night unlike the previous occasion a few weeks ago where I was much more diligent. Surprise, surprise, come this morning I couldn’t remember what outfit I had decided on in my head last night. Not good. I almost forgot to pack breakfast and her sippy cup, and at the last minute remembered to throw a few toys into her bag. So rather than enjoying the little slither of time I had with the little lady this morning, she was whisked from room to room like she was being processed by airport security. Not exactly how I envisaged our mornings would be.
If I have learnt anything from our practice run, it’s that I will need to be organised to an almost military precision if we have any hope of getting the three of us out the door on time and in good shape. That means batch cooking on the weekends and buying in bulk to make sure the little lady has a variety of meals. Today she has chicken for lunch and chicken for dinner. Say no more. The husband even suggesting conceding to use Ella’s pouches in the week once im actually back at work, although my guilt over leaving her all day makes me feel like the least I could do is make her fresh, home cooked meals. I also realised last night that I need a better labelling system for her food, I need to get more organised with packing her bag the night before and not leave half of it till the morning like I did today and I most definitely need to take some tips from Betty and the Bumps and start putting her outfits together at least the night before. I should probably do the same for myself, and it’s definitely time I started getting us into the routine of setting an alarm and getting up at the time we will need to get up in two weeks time. I think the little lady was a little startled by the slightly earlier start to our day, although she seemed to take it in her stride and was just as cheery and chatty as she is on any other morning. It took me on the other hand, until 8am, one shower and one cup of tea to feel anything but cheery and chatty.
But now my house feels quiet and empty. I didn’t realise just how much children complete a home. It feels as though the little lady has gone for a nap and I am just waiting for her to wake up. I’m not sure yet how I will fill the many hours between now and this evening. Even with everything that I have been “meaning to do” or “catch up on” I don’t think it will keep me busy until she comes home. Last Saturday night when I didn’t make it out of the house to go to a friend’s birthday party I commented to friends that I think we may have “separation issues”. I thought I was referring to the little lady, but now im not sure whether I meant her or me. It would seem that this practice run may be more for my benefit than anyone elses…
I’d love to hear from other parents on how you’ve made the reutrn to office work for you. Did you do a practice run? What tips can you share that will make life that little bit easier?
photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/missnita/380929930/”>Ani-Bee</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/”>cc</a>
As I sit on the train on my way home from my first day back in the office since I had the little lady, I can’t help but smile at the thought of my seeing her. I have really missed my daughter, although not overwhelmingly so. It feels terrible to admit that. I almost feel guilty for not feeling guilty about leaving her to go into the office for a few hours, which sounds a bit ridiculous. I know there is nothing wrong with leaving your child for a few hours, but sometimes I feel like I should feel like I want to be with her all the time. For the most part I do of course, but on those rare occasions like today where I need to go somewhere sans-child I do feel a little spring in my step that comes from being able to sit down and read, or talk or think at my leisure. But where ever I am, and whatever I am doing, my daughter will always cross my mind and I will smile at the thought of going home to her. But today I realise that I’m also smiling because I’ve really enjoyed my day. My one day of being back in the city and catching a glimpse of what it might be like to be a working Maman.
After months of deliberation and anxiety over when is the “right” time to go back to work, going back into the office for a few hours cemented for me that I have made the right decisions and the right choices about when to go back. I feel ready. I have had a wonderful period of maternity leave with my little lady. I even got a little me time before she arrived. Something that I feel very fortunate to have experienced. When else do you get the opportunity to take 11 months off work? It has given me perspective. It has given me time to reflect. Time to step back. Time to re-assess. Time to appreciate. Time to love. Time to live. Time to grow. I have appreciated every single day, every single week and every single month. I have had the absolute best time. But I am finally feeling ready to go back to work. Im also feeling relieved that I finally feel ready, because the last thing I wanted was to dread having to go back. Becuase even though its hard going back to work after such a long time off, it must be even harder if you feel coerced into going back. Of course there is part of me that wants to stay and be with my daughter every single day, to be there to witness her every milestone first. But then there is also a part of me that is quite looking forward to un-pausing my career. To seeing how much further I can progress and how much more I can grow the other side of me. I know that a few hours in the office isn’t by any means a real or true reflection of what life as a working parent will be like, but after months of wondering how my two worlds will collide, I have a feeling that it just might be ok..
photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/beth19/4721798240/”>Βethan</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/”>cc</a>