Baby Elma Family Kitty Motherhood Working Mum

Going back

25/09/2013

Today is my last day of maternity leave.

I know in the rational, grown up, balanced decision making part of my brain that my going back to work is absolutely the right decision for our family.  And it isn’t just about returning to being a two income family, although it will be nice to be contributing to the family coffers again, there are some other extremely sensible reasons for that extra level of security.

Kitty is at a nursery staffed by wonderful people who cherish her and help her to thrive, rather than merely babysit her, and my little Elma has gone through her settling in sessions with barely a backward glance. She smiles adoringly at the girls when she arrives, goes off without a tear for cuddles and toast, and while she very loudly tells me off for going when I come to collect her, all reports are that she’s settling really well, and their photos for the day back it up, showing me a smiley baby sploshing in the water tray, pushing cars down a ramp, or playing hide-peepo behind a shiny blanket.

So why in the face of all of that, does the very childish, not very 33-year old part of me want to put my fingers in my ears, screw up my eyes and shout:

“na! na! na! I can’t hear you! You can’t make me!”

I’m not ready for it to be over.

They say everything goes faster with a second baby but really it’s been ridiculous.  One frosty winter’s day I held a tiny squirming newborn in my arms, then it was Christmas, and then I must have blinked because suddenly my newborn has become a bonny nine month old who can crawl, who keeps trying to escape onto the patio if we leave the back door open, who’s fascinated with the stairs (but thankfully can’t quite work out how to climb them – yet), who claps, giggles and who blows the most beautiful kisses, all bright eyes and cheeks sucked in.

And yet for all of that she’s still my little tiny baby.  She seems so much younger than Kitty was when I went back after my first maternity leave, although in reality she’s a shade older, and coping far far better to boot.

I thought that it would be easier the second time around, that the knowledge that I could do it and it would all be OK would make it an easier transition, that there would be security in knowing that after a few weeks you stop feeling like you can’t breathe as you walk away and leave them, and that finding enjoyment in your work, adult conversation, and the very serious perk of wearing clothes not gently patterned with little yoghurty handprints doesn’t mean that you love your babies any less.

But in truth I think it just makes the knots in my stomach tighten more.  Work has a lot to live up to.  It needs to compensate me, not just in financial terms (which incidentally if you are my boss and you are reading this is still very important) but in fulfilment, to make parting from these lovely daughters worth it.

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I’d be fibbing if I said I’d loved every minute of my maternity leave, there were some moments that I’m horribly ashamed of, when the sleep deprived, intensely frustrated shouty Mummy got the upper hand, and I had to get a grip on myself, apologise with tears, cuddles and kisses, and move on, and some moments that made me long for the sound of H’s key in the lock, and the chance to hand over at least one daughter and stop being so torn in two by the conflicting needs and wants of two tiny people.

But there has never been a day without some part that I treasured; watching Kitty learn to be a big sister, watching Elma explore this bright new world.  I’ve loved quiet days with my girls, the silly moments of giggles and tickles, lunchtime chats, runs around the playpark, story time, and making big messes in the kitchen.

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I’m fortunate to be going back part time, and there will still be plenty of days left to fill with laughter and memories. And I’m going to do my very very best not to let a single one of those precious days slip by unnoticed in a haze of shopping and laundry.  I won’t always succeed, and the shopping and laundry will still have to be done at some point, but if I can bottle up this feeling of unlimited time, the relaxed pace of my time at home, and carry that with me, I know that we’re going to be more than fine.

And so the next chapter in our family story opens. At least it will if I can find my left shoe, the one missing piece of my working wardrobe current evading detection.

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  • lucy at dear beautiful 25/09/2013 at 8:41 am

    Ahhh, it brought tears to my eyes reading this. It’s just so incredibly fleeting isn’t it? And so much more so the second time around. I feel exactly the same about my little lady, that while the time is going so much faster, she somehow seems so much younger. I can completely understand why you are feeling so sad that your maternity leave is over, that’s just another baby milestone passed.
    But it sounds like your girls are both very happy at their nursery, which has to be a big comfort. And it just means you can really make the most of your time together on your non-working days. It’s just all a new reality to get used to I guess. Good luck!!! x

    • Carie 25/09/2013 at 1:16 pm

      As you say, another milestone, but one that can go in the same category as the jabs, “milestones that I do not like one little bit”.

      The girls’ nursery is the spoonful of sugar, they are so lovely and caring. Kitty went somewhere else when she was tiny but since we made the move she’s really thrived and I know Elma will have all sorts of opportunities that I can’t replicate at home. I just have to grit my teeth and get on with it!

  • Katie 25/09/2013 at 9:06 am

    It’s absolutely crazy how quickly things go with your second isn’t it!!

    Best of luck going back to work – it’s such a good balance to be able to go back part-time and after a little settling in I’m sure you will all benefit from it. Gorgeous pics of the girls by the way 🙂 x

    • Carie 25/09/2013 at 1:10 pm

      Quite ridiculously crazy fast – I’m certain someone has been messing with my clock. Thank you for your good wishes, I’m going to be wrapping them around me like a little cloak of mummy-made resilience to make me get on that train tomorrow.

  • Anna-Marie 25/09/2013 at 9:51 am

    Oh this is such a lovely post and I got tears reading it. Its bitter sweet isn’t it? You go back and it brings in extra income so you can do those lovely things with the children.

    It sounds like the girls are in a perfect nursery and have a blast! Good luck going back to work xx

    Gorgeous pictures xx

    • Carie 25/09/2013 at 1:07 pm

      Thank you 🙂 it’s one of those situations where there is no solution that doesn’t involve a compromise – short of a lottery win of course, perhaps I should buy a ticket – so I just have to find the best path, cross my fingers and hope!

  • Laurenne @ This Mummy 25/09/2013 at 10:16 am

    Ahhh this made me all teary too. It is so fleeting with your second isn’t it. I can’t believe I have crawling 6 month old now, it seems like she was a newborn for a couple of days then that was it! Hope your return to work goes smoothly for you all. I imagine it’s really hard to leave them at first. I work from home so haven’t had the ‘going back to work’ struggles – which is nice in a way, but certainly brings its own challenges! L x

    • Carie 25/09/2013 at 1:04 pm

      I suspect working at home is just as hard but in different ways – I’d never be able to resist just spending a couple of minutes playing, and before you know it I’d be working at 2am to catch up! Actually sometimes I have to do that with the real job – maybe it isn’t that different!

  • Laurenne @ This Mummy 25/09/2013 at 10:16 am

    Oh and beautiful photos by the way, your girls are just gorgeous. L x

    • Carie 25/09/2013 at 1:03 pm

      Thank you so much 🙂

  • mandycharlie 25/09/2013 at 10:48 am

    Firstly, ((((((carie)))))). I feel for you love, it doesn’ matter what age they are when you have to leave them regularly, it always hurts. Take care sweetie, enjoy today, remember, it does get easier. xxxx

    • Carie 25/09/2013 at 1:02 pm

      Thank you – I know in my head it will get easier but I’d forgotten how hard it is to start with – parenting in a nutshell perhaps!

  • Katie @mummydaddyme 25/09/2013 at 2:51 pm

    This post bought tears to my eyes Carie. I can completely remember how I felt when I left Mads when I returned to work, she was 11 months so I had a great period of time off, but I just sobbed in the car on the way to my office. I felt empty and lost without her.
    And like you say I soon felt fine, and secretly enjoyed the time away from her, it was only 2.5 days a week and I got to be Mummy most of the time, and have some me time and adult conversation the rest. My career is important to me.
    But this time, I don’t know what is going to happen to us. It’s all up in the air at the moment, but I am hoping to concentrate on freelance work. We shall see, but I have till February to make the (hard) decision about what to do.
    I can imagine this time round it is even more bittersweet because these babies seem to have grown so quickly.
    I wish you all the best back at work, and while yes we do know that eventually after a few weeks it gets easier, it doesn’t make it any easier now. I am pleased that your lovely two are thriving at nursery though. xx

    • Carie 25/09/2013 at 10:19 pm

      Thank you my dear, it’s just going to be one of those days to get through and promise myself chocolate after supper! I don’t think it’s ever easy to decide what to do regardless of the level of choice available, we just have to muddle through as best we can.

      Good luck to you too with the freelance work – I’m sure it will be a runaway success.

  • Steph 25/09/2013 at 3:14 pm

    Oh my goodness! This is all ringing so true to me! I thought I’d have a nose at your blog after you left the lovely comment on my last post (thank you!) and I’m nodding my head at everything you’ve written. Our experiences are almost identical – 2 children of a very similar age at a nursery they enjoy, a job that we want to keep doing, and a horrible sick feeling in the pit of our stomach.
    I completely empathise.
    I popped into work today and feel so much better for doing so. I’m forcing myself to be positive about going back to work!
    My maternity leave sounds like it was just like yours – magical with a bit of “arrgghhhh!” thrown in for good measure 😉 It’ll be very special to reminisce about, but I’m sure our children will see to it that this new era is just as fun.
    Hugs for tomorrow, you’ll be fine. Just think about those cuddles and smiles you’ll get at the end of the day – there’s nothing better!! Xx

    • Carie 25/09/2013 at 10:22 pm

      Thank you – I think I might find myself sprinting back up the hill from the station at the end of the day – at least it will be good exercise!

  • Bex @ The Mummy Adventure 25/09/2013 at 10:32 pm

    I am dreading this bit myself, and I completely agree that the first time was so different. Dylan seemed so big and so grown up at 9 months, probably as I was comparing him to the newborn and he had come so far, but Archie at 7 months is still so tiny, and having a walking, talking 2 year old around only helps to prove this! I am not going back until January/February but I am already dreading it!

    • Carie 26/09/2013 at 12:40 am

      I think it’s the speed with which it all comes around that makes most of the difference, and the comparison to an older sibling which makes them seem so much younger. I think the first time too I was in amongst all my NCT friends who were all going back at about the same time so it didn’t feel quite such a big step on my own.