Saturday, 13 December 2014

Maternity Leave is ending....

It is with a very heavy heart that I write this post. Before you read on, please understand that I know how fortunate I am to live in a country which values maternity leave. We are so very lucky to be offered a year of leave - three of those months receiving some pay from work. Due to both finances and our potential move abroad, I had to return to work. While I find the return heartbreaking, I know that every other mother feels the same way upon their return to work.  What's more - I had far more time with Emma than most mothers get with their little ones. I am by no means unaware of how fortunate I have been.

I had chosen to return to work the week before the Christmas holidays as I believed it would be easier to get back into the swing of things right before the two week holiday. I would have to spend the Christmas holiday preparing, so I may as well get paid for it, right?  The return five days before the break also meant that I could ease myself in - leaving my precious baby for only five days before I would be with her again for two weeks.  

Let's get one thing straight. I never thought I would be maternal...I didn't think I had it in me. I have always been a relatively selfish individual - and before you say "no, you are being too hard on yourself" - yes - I have always been selfish. I wasn't convinced I wanted to change my physical appearance. I didn't want to lose sleep. I didn't want to give up things which I did or bought or ate or used.  I was happy with my life and the way we lived. 

And then along came Emma. 

I didn't realise my life was half empty. I didn't know my heart was missing something. I couldn't initially comprehend the love that I feel for her or the way she makes me feel.  She was part of me for nine months and then virtually attached to me for four. We've been inseparable. I've not even spent more than a few hours away from her (and I can count those occurrences on one hand) and she's nearly five months old. 

Now, I have to leave her for most of the day, five days a week - and it's honestly breaking my heart. She will love being with other kids and she will love the different activities they do at nursery.
I know it'll be fine.
That doesn't mean I am ready.

What makes things even harder is that I know my job. I know the time commitment it takes. I've always prided myself on my work ethic and I've always met deadlines and ensured the quality of my work is high. In the years I have worked there, I've spent hours every night commiting myself to my career, trying to be Perfect. For years I have allowed myself to become buried in work - wading my way through endless piles of paperwork and never quite being good enough. 

And now I've realised that that is not ok anymore. 

I don't know how to be both a successful teacher and a mom. I'm not sure I can do both. I'm not saying it can't be done, I'm just saying that I'm not sure that I can do both.  

Emma is the piece of my heart that I didn't even know was missing.  I know I have to return to work, but that only means for eight hours a day I will be missing a very important piece of myself. I will be half present.  My commitment is at the bottom of the school field - playing her day away in a brightly coloured nursery where someone else will change her and feed her and hold her. 

Half may not be good enough - half committed to my work or half committed to my daughter. 

She wins - every time. 

The only consolation to returning is that I know it won't be forever. I know that something is coming. Never the less - the next few weeks are going to be difficult. 

I've watched her sleep over the past few days, loving her gentle breathing and relaxed, comfortable form. I am going to savour every second spent with my beautiful little girl - she is, after all, the piece I never knew I was missing. 


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