I write this with a full heart of crazy mixed feelings on the eve of the end of my maternity leave. Tomorrow not only starts the beginning of the 2017-2018 school year for me, but my year long maternity leave also comes to an end. My twin daughters were born four weeks into last year’s school year after I was on hospital bed rest for a week. The three weeks I worked last year were a clouded spiral of the end of my twin pregnancy causing quite a blur in my memory. Although I actually had forty-nine weeks off, I like to say I took off the whole year. Where did this year go? How has it been forty-nine weeks since I stepped foot into my school?
The mixed feelings I have about this new working-mom-of-three journey have been stirring around in my stomach since the beginning of July. When working was eight months away, I could push the thought out of my mind, but when I looked at a calendar and saw only five weeks left, the nerves came streaming into my thoughts.
Returning to work after a maternity leave is not a new occurrence for me. I did this already two years ago after having my son, but this leave has been different. This time I got a taste of what is feels like to be a stay-at-home mom for a year. During this leave, I was able to enroll my toddler and be present at library programs, attend open tumbling gyms, drink coffee with fellow twin moms and much more while not worrying about evaluations or state standards.
I was asked often the first six months of my leave if I missed work. Honestly, I didn’t have time to miss work. Did you read I am a twin mom with a toddler? Yes, I had three children under the age of three for six months. Work was the last thing on my mind. Due to awesome colleagues, I didn’t have to worry about my time away from the classroom. My concentration was strictly on my new life as a mom-of-three at home. During this year I survived: a twenty-eight day NICU stay with my twins in separate rooms, successfully sleep training my twins, exclusively breastfeeding twins, re-potty training my two-year old (we had some problems when the girls came home), a week RSV PICU stay for one of my daughters, successfully transitioning my son to a toddler bed, our first vacation as a family of five, and many more eventful firsts! Along with all the successes there were definitely numerous events I had to miss out on. My friends seemed to be understandable, but a few friendships may have drifted.
Tomorrow will bring the excitement of a new school year with energized sun tanned students, loud attentive classes and a fresh start! Did you know even teachers get excited about the first day of school? It is just as exciting for the teachers as it is the students. I believe enjoying your job makes it easier to keep going knowing your children aren’t with you and luckily, I do love my job! Although beginning of the year excitement is there, I have my reservations. For the last week, I have been stretching out bedtime with longer cuddles than normal, telling my children, “I love you.” double as many times as normal and reading an extra book at bed time to spend more time with my little loves.
My year off has been awesome! I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world! When I look at those smiles radiating from my little girls’ faces and listen to how silly my son is about his new found interest in tornadoes, I feel blessed to have been home a year. I now know the difficulty of carrying the burden of being a stay-at-home mom. Now, tomorrow I will leave them. All of my children will wake up after I have left for work in the morning. What will they do or say when I am not the first person they see in the morning? Even though I am not fully ready to leave my kids, I am excited to see my colleagues (my work wife; gosh I have missed seeing my work best friend daily!), meet my new students and get back into the swing of the work world, but will definitely have my three loves on speed dial with their new nanny.
Here is to a night of tossing and turning hoping everything goes smoothly! Pass the merlot please! Cheers!