Sunday, December 8, 2013

A Letter to my Colleagues Upon the End of Maternity Leave or, the Worst Day Evah'

Dear Colleagues,

I write this letter to you upon the eve of my return to work. I know that my absence may have made many of your lives more difficult. You may have missed my whitty banter, or my ability to tell it like it is. Perhaps you have dreaded the day that I returned since the day I left. However you are feeling, you may decide that the nice thing to do would be to welcome me back. I mean this in the nicest way...please don't.

You see any kind words, or general questions about my baby, who I just left with someone who is not me, will undoubtedly bring on the water works. I know that you may not understand my fragile emotional state on this day, so here I will try to explain why I am a freaking mess.

Maternity leave is the only time where it is expected that a mom's entire focus should be devoted to rest, heal, and bond with her newborn. She has, perhaps for the first time in her life, been allowed, even encouraged, to "put [her] feet up," "get as much sleep as possible," and "let [her] husband (or others) do all of the housework, cooking, and care taking of any other children" so that she can cuddle, kiss, snuggle, and bond with her baby.

During this time, the bond between a mother and her newborn is so connected that the baby may only be able to be calmed by the mother. As the baby grows he/she saves special smiles just for Mom, laughs for the first time with Mom, and spends hours cuddling with Mom. As you can imagine allowing something else to get in the way of all these special smiles, coos, and cuddles is not ideal.  A mother returning to work is dealing with the absence of these moments. She is also dealing with the fact that someone else is experiencing these moments with HER child. A child who is just beginning to reveal a little of his or her personality and becoming an adorable social being.

Additionally, she is exhausted because (if she is lucky) her child sleeps for six hours at night. Her breasts are painfully engorged because she is no longer allowed to choose when to feed her baby, but instead must plan her pumping sessions according to her work schedule. Oh, and those pumping sessions? Those are done hidden away in a closet where she will spend the twenty minutes or so crying because she is stuck in a closet attached to a machine instead of snuggling with her beautiful baby. The day will be never-ending and your "thoughtful" inquiries will only help to remind her that she is not where she would like to be.

So, on this end of my maternity leave, this worst day ever, please, please, please, don't ask. And, if you do, be prepared for tears. Also, don't try to chat with me at the end of the day because I plan to be out the door as soon as humanly possible and if you make it take a moment longer I will snap your head off.

If you would like to help support me, allow me a few extra moments to get myself together, don't point out the red rimmed eyes, disheveled hair, or dark circles, and if I am late for everything, pretend that I am not. No, I am not excited to be back at work. No, I did not miss it. No, I do not care about anything that is happening around me. Right now, I just want to be home with my child.

And finally, don't expect this to change for a few days. The second day is not as terrible as the first, but it is still pretty bad.

Thank you for listening,

A new mom

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