Returning to Work after Maternity Leave

March 11, 2020
Bailey Burley

Wine or sushi after conception.  Had an epidural.  Still haven’t lost the baby weight.  Incomplete baby book.  Discontinued breastfeeding before 1 year.  Work outside the home.

Welcome to Mom Guilt.  Of the 6 things listed above, I can check off 5 that I did.  And I feel guilty about a couple of them.  Well, I feel guilty about my feelings towards them.  I returned to work last week after being off for a year on Maternity Leave.  When I was younger (like 5 years ago) I thought I’d want to be a stay-at-home-mom.  I didn’t want someone at daycare ‘raising’ my kid.  Part way through my leave I realized I DID NOT want to be a stay-at-home-mom.  I love my son, but I just didn’t know what to do with him all day.  I felt like he wasn’t learning enough from me.  I don’t feel guilty about working outside of the home, I feel guilty about wanting to work outside of the home.  Shouldn’t I want to spend my days at home raising my child before he goes off to school?

There are a number of things for Moms to feel guilty about (thinking your kids are annoying, not enjoying every moment of breastfeeding, wanting time away from your kid, spending too much time with your kids, having a bad day, going back to work…or not going back to work.  I could go on and on.  AND ON! But you get the point) but below are a few of the ones I feel are most relevant to this past week.

Work/family Balance – This is a new one for us.  During the week, we get about an hour before and after work with our son each day, so now I just want to spend all weekend with my little family.  But I also want to make plans with friends, and make other plans with friends and their kids, but I want all the time with just my family.

Caregiving – I don’t feel guilty about this one for a couple of reasons.  The women at the daycare are great, and my son is happy to see them each morning.  He’s done very well adjusting to new his daily routine.  The daycare has an app, which we love, so we get updates and pictures throughout the day.  My husband wants to pay them more to ensure we get a couple pictures every day – he may not be adjusting as well as our son lol.

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Work Discrimination – The other ‘mom guilts’ are kind of whatever, but I worry about this one.  I don’t think I need too, but I do.  Before I got pregnant, my boss told me that it would not be seen as a ‘bad’ thing.  She may have been lying (she wasn’t) but just knowing that I had her support meant so much and I wasn’t nervous when I was finally able to tell her I was pregnant.  Now that I’m back at work, I worry about the days I get a message from daycare (in the app I love so much) letting me know my son needs to be picked up.  Its already happened once.  Thankfully we have a bunch of parents in our office so they either remember what those days were like or they are also going through it too.  Our office is near the daycare and my husband works all over the lower mainland so midday pickups will always fall on me.  And he can’t call in sick, so sick days are also on me.

Mental load – This one is tough.  Most women I know carry more of the mental load in their households but it’s even more true for Moms.  I know I do.  My best friend does.  My mom did too.  With the way our jobs are, it makes sense for me to carry the mental load.  I write the grocery list because I know can pop out at lunch to grab groceries, I work 9-5 everyday so I know I can take our son to the doctor at 5:30, I had the year off so I was able to get into a routine and I know when our son should be woken up, put down for a nap and put to bed.

Since we’re only in week 2 I’m trying to give myself grace when I start to feel like I can’t do it all.  Thankfully my husband is always there to remind me that we’re just starting to find our new routine and offer a big hug.  Now it’s time to start doing some meal planning/prepping to hopefully reduce the amount of time spent making lunches each night.