Four months postpartum, I was so ready to go back to work it was ridiculous. At home I felt a little lost, very lonely, and without a benchmark to go by, like I was failing completely at motherhood. It's not that I wanted to be away from my son, I just felt that in his best interest, he should be with someone who was better at entertaining him and tending to his needs. In short, a better mom. The thing about that is - even on my worst days - I'm the only mom he has, and I'm the best person for the job.
The anxiety started to lessen for me around six months when his emotions were more readable from his reactions, and his routine was a little more established. It still took work; like commiserating about the hard stuff with other moms, and having something to get dressed and be out of the house for. Fresh air, even when it's very cold, is great to wake up your senses. Things still happened to make me worry and doubt, but it didn't get me down in the same way as it did early on. His smiles and laugher reassured me that he was happy.
Almost eleven months in now, watching him dance, learn to walk, eat "table" food... it's amazing. He's developing the most amazing personality right in front of my eyes, and I don't want to miss a minute. Now that I'm coping, and some days even thriving as a stay-at-home mom, I have to go back to work. The stress and the anxiety is creeping back, but this time it's about leaving. Will I remember how to do my job? Will I miss something important? After spending almost a year learning how to have a routine without employment, can I go back? Will I be able to develop that work-life balance?
I have never dealt well with major change. It's just like that first September with no school, or seeing your ex when you feel you have finally moved on. You feel at the edge of something new, and you sense a lack of control. I firmly believe that everything happens for a reason, and I have been very fortunate that every end in my life has brought me somewhere better, so I had to think of the up sides, and it isn't that hard to find at least a few.
Staying at home is like working double shifts every single day. You spend no less than 12 hours a day together, not to mention those night time visits. So, now that I will be spending one of those shifts away, I will have the opportunity to miss my son a little. I know this will help me to appreciate our time together more, and give me even more reasons to take cute pictures to keep at my desk. The structure that comes with an actual work day (and a lunch break!) are going to be helpful in the long run.
For anyone getting near this big shift for the first time, like I am, take a deep breath. It's not going to be easy, but you can do it. I'm scared, but determined not to be too hard on myself. If you need a double shot to get started in the morning, or don't fit in to your old work wardrobe, that's life. A lot of things are going to be different now, and that's OK. Motherhood is the best kind of insanity there is, and we're in it together.