Leaving your baby is emotional
I started penning a letter to my son days before my maternity leave ended. A single day at work was going to be the longest time we had spent apart. I think I felt that writing my emotions down would make them easier to deal with, but in reality, I could never bring myself to finish. I felt as though I was going to be leaving a huge part of my life behind, and, with it, a piece of my heart.
Handing my son over to a stranger for what felt like the longest 9 hours of my life was the most agonizing pain I had yet to experience with my son. After losing my first child to miscarriage, I somehow felt that this little boy needed protection and no one could protect him the way I could. My heart and my mind in constant tension for hours on end until we were reunited.
I was anxiety ridden and preoccupied throughout the day. I used my best efforts to let my work steal my focus for a few minutes at a time. When it was finally time to come home to my son, the relief swelled through my whole body uncontrollably. I let it out in a sea of tears as I held my son close to my heart. I’m tearing up even now as I describe the memory.
The worst was over.
Don’t be your own worst critic
Here’s the thing about new mom life: you’re always under scrutiny. It may be from coworkers, friends, family or even strangers. But most importantly, from yourself. It’s over-analyzing every decision you make 24/7 because you are suddenly responsible for this tiny, fragile human.
Let’s be honest: it’s terrifying.
I know as you’re reading this, your maternity leave is coming to an end and you’re debating whether you are making the right decision going back to work. You may ponder all of your options and dread the conversations around the office constantly reminding you how hard it was to leave your baby.
Here’s what I’ve learned as time has passed: I am my own worst critic, and none of the other critics matter. I admittedly spend way too much time critiquing my mothering and wondering if I’m going to scar my son for life over something trivial. In a way, it’s our job as moms to worry.
Don’t second guess yourself
You thought through your decision and worked through the finances. You spent weeks searching for childcare providers and asking the hard questions. Regardless of your doubts, you are an awesome mom for putting your child’s needs first. Period.
It’s our responsibility to transform a tiny human into a passionate, loving, and opinionated adult who contributes to society! And, that is a lot of responsibility! But, if there is anything we should be a living example of to our kids, it is love and truth.
Our children need to see their mothers love them so much that they cry! They need to understand that living your truth comes with facing opposition and negativity head-on. If our children are going to change the world they need to embrace their emotions, their mistakes and their victories as stepping stones leading to their ultimate purpose.
So, mama, if you’re reading this and you’re anxious, exhausted, overwhelmed and dreading the end of your maternity leave, here’s what you need to know:
It’s okay to not be okay
Let yourself live in the moment, feel the pain of the experience, and treasure the times you hold dearest with your child. Cry in the car on your way to work if you need to. Soak up all the moments and don’t hide them from your children, or anyone else.
Be unapologetically you.
Raw. Unfiltered. YOU.