I’m going to make a small confession. It’s one that will probably get me a decent amount of backlash, but that’s okay. I didn’t cry the first day I dropped my sweet girl off at daycare. Not one tear welled up in my eye. I didn’t even feel like I was on the verge of crying. In fact, as I dropped her off at 10 weeks old and on my way into my full time job, I was happy to be doing so. And, I had looked forward to doing it for at least 3 weeks. I’ll be honest … this was a bit surprising to me because I had always told my husband and family that ultimately I wanted to stay home with my kids. I always knew that it wouldn’t be with my first baby so I expected to dread going back to work. That I would be longing to spend every waking hour with my baby and that I would feel guilty about returning to work like I had heard from so many other women.
Let’s go back for just a few minutes. After about four weeks at home, spending every second with a cute baby, but a baby that just looked at me and cried and wanted to be breastfed, I craved the routine and longed for the adult interaction that was missing when caring for a newborn. It was soon after that I realized that it was time for me to return to work and time for her to have her own thing, i.e. daycare. When it was finally time to return to work a few weeks later, I’ll admit that I was pretty anxious. But it was more so about making sure I would remember everything and be able to get me and a baby out the door with everything we needed for me to get to work on time, not so much about leaving her for 8 hours a day each day.
The first day, I dropped her off and didn’t shed a tear. I prepared myself for it to “hit me” later that day, waited for the time of missing her and the mom guilt of returning to work, but honestly it never came. In fact, after a few days back at work, I realized that my time away from her to be myself, allowed me to enjoy my time with her even more. Since I knew our time was limited, I was much more intentional about the time we spent together. Yes, it’s hard working full time and then coming home to spend those short couple of hours before bedtime with each other, but I noticed that I wasn’t so exhausted or overwhelmed with motherhood after returning to work. I realized that I could still excel professionally as well as in motherhood. I also noticed improvements with her! She was on a semi-schedule after just a week at daycare (something I just couldn’t figure out on maternity leave). She slept better at night. And, it seemed like she was learning new skills every week. She knew her teachers and looked forward to seeing them in the morning and her teachers loved her. What I dreaded my entire pregnancy was actually what was best for both of us.