Today is my last day of maternity leave. I return to work full time on Monday. Of course, I’ve been doing work this whole time (errr), but the idea of the return to my normal life is daunting. Depressing. All I want to be is a stay at home mom — but let’s get real, I really like maternity-leave mom. The one who still has some money coming in thanks to Aflac coverage. The mom who can shop in the morning, watch a little HBO around lunch, and then do one or two chores. The lady who, although she stopped taking naps a few weeks ago, is taking full advantage of the sleeping babe in her arms.
I’m luckier than most. I don’t have the additional expense of sending C4 to daycare – emotional or financial. C3 will still be going to daycare, but C4 will stick with me – my daily sidekick. Last time, it was an every other day type of deal, and I wonder how I will adjust to having the full-time care of a baby plus my work expectations. Right now, it should be easy – she really only eats and sleeps. In a few months, it will get tougher.
But right now? Right now I’m enjoying my last day. We napped in bed this morning. We went out for lunch. She’s sleeping in my arms at this very moment. I’ve stared at her. I’ve prayed over her. I’ve kissed her so much her head smells vaguely of my own breath. These eight weeks have melted away, and I am left with this new human who is beginning to be more alert, more awake, more ready to know her world.
It’s time to move from the couch back to my office. It’s time to move forward. Even if I stayed right where I am for another week or two, this child in my arms is racing and advancing and growing faster than I can adjust. No matter how I’d like this phase to linger, it’s changing with or without my permission. If this sounds maudlin, it’s not. Being able to see the progression from newborn to infant to toddler with C3 helps me here. I am in awe of my children. K teases me when I try to explain this to him, asking me if I’ll be ready when they leave for college. I won’t be and I will be – it’s the dichotomy of motherhood, I think.
Just like with C3, it is hard to imagine my life without her. While I have lots of lots of memories of parenthood with only one child, it seems as though C4 was always there, just waiting to make her appearance. I’ve always been her mother; she’s always been my daughter.