I just finished my first week returning to work after maternity leave. What was it like? Oddly normal. It felt like I never left.
I’m writing this post without much enthusiasm (and a little stunned) because I thought my first week back to work after being off for a year would be tougher on both Hailey and I.
But she was happy to leave me each morning, off for a fun day with her grandparents.
Literally, we would pull up to their place. I’d unbuckle her from her car seat. She’d take one look at them, burst into a massive grin and lean toward them as if saying “Take me! Take me!” And that was that.
She didn’t even want to say goodbye to me. I tried.
Even though I was a teensy bit hurt it made me feel good knowing that she was that excited to be with her grandparents.
Off to work I went. It surprised me that I didn’t find myself missing her during the day. Instead, my week was hectic, trying to catch up on all of my projects. I was busy, took only one lunch break, and jammed in a ton of meetings.
In many ways, it felt like I never left.
When I’d pick her up after work, she’d greet me by running toward me with an excited smile on her face and dishing out a big hug.
The only real change was in the evenings.
Hailey was clingy. She wanted me to hold her. She even fussed when my husband tried to take her instead.
I admit, I kind of liked that she missed me.
Sometimes all it would take was me sitting on the floor holding her for a minute or two. Then, when she was ready, she would push away and start playing.
If I let her detach on her own terms she played happily by herself while we made dinner.
If I tried to put her down when I wanted and didn’t pick her up then she just kept melting down.
I questioned whether I should give into that kind of behaviour. I can’t hold her whenever she wants. But I decided this was an adjustment for both of us and she still needed to know that her and I were ok.
So by the end of the week, I let her call the shots in this regard so she knew that I had not completely abandoned her.
The other change this week was bath time. Bath time is normally a fun evening activity with daddy. Hailey LOVES playing in the tub each and every night.
Except this week.
Two nights she screamed until we took her out. So we didn’t even try on the 3rd night. After that it got better.
But that was it. It wasn’t a huge struggle being separate for the first week.
Each day I had several friends, family members, and co-workers ask me how I was doing being away from the munchkin and returning to work after maternity leave.
The answer surprised me each time.
Oddly normal. Totally OK.