Today marks the day I’d normally be headed back to work. My maternity leave of 12 weeks is over. Everything is different this time around since I’m not going back to my full-time corporate event planning job.
Who am I now? A stay-at-home mom? A non-working mom? A work-from-home mom who runs a blog and raises her babies? It’s still hard for me to identify myself in any other way than a working mom, as I’ve been in the workforce for over a decade and went back to work after having my first baby three years ago.
Thinking about how I felt this day after my first maternity leave ended, I was filled with so many emotions. I was headed back to work but my role had changed. I was no longer just an event planner. I was a working mom. (A label that I find funny since you hardly hear anyone identify themselves as a working dad.) I felt different. I felt worried. I felt anxious. I was leaving my baby to be cared for by someone other than myself and I was splitting my time between motherhood and working. I had spent hours pumping to build up my supply in preparation of returning to work. I scoured articles about pumping at work and storing breast milk safely. Luckily, my mom was able to watch my newborn baby for the first few months, so that made the transition a little easier, but it was still hard nonetheless. No matter how much I prepared myself for returning to work, nothing could help me from feeling the a rush of mixed emotions the day my maternity leave ended.
Three years later, I am at this same juncture as my maternity leave comes to an end the second time around. Yet, this time I’m not going back to work. How do I feel this time around? A bundle of mixed emotions just like the first time. I feel different. I feel worried. I feel anxious. I’m not leaving my baby to go back to work, but I’m leaving my job, my co-workers, part of my identity as a working mom. I wonder if I’ll be good at my new role as a stay-at-home mom. There won’t be anyone to tell me about areas I need to improve or things I’m excelling at. No one will hand me a bonus check for a job well done. I won’t be receiving a paycheck to validate the work I’ve put in. How will I know if I’m a good mom? Do I just have to wait and see how my kids turn out 30 years from now to determine if I’ve done my job well?
As I think about all the emotions I’m feeling this time around, I realize they are the same feelings I felt the first time around. Different. Worried. Anxious… Yet, I also feel excited, hopeful, grateful, and a sense of peace that I’m making the right choice for myself and my family. I’ve put A LOT of thought into this decision. I don’t take it lightly.
Thinking about today, the day my 12 weeks of maternity leave ends and the day I’m not going back to work, I realize something. No matter what type of mom I am I will always feel a mix of emotions because I am just that… a mom. I will always feel all the feels because I have children who I love unconditionally. And I will always worry and be concerned that I’m making the right choices for them, spending enough time with them, and raising them to be good humans.
Yet with all these fears and doubts come great love and life. An unconditional love for my babies and family. I find comfort and confidence knowing that no matter what else I’m doing in life, whether it’s working, or staying home, or working from home, or anything else, I will always strive to do my best and appreciate these fleeting moments. I don’t need to fit into a certain role or categorized identity to feel self-worth. So I’m going to forget about all the other mom labels and just simply be a mom. I’m excited and eager to walk a new path in life. It’s another chapter in my story and it’s going to be a page-turner, especially with two little ones keeping me busy!
Would love to hear from all you mamas and how you felt as your maternity leave came to an end. Leave me a note! 🙂 And make sure to check out my post when I first announced our big family news here.