The time has come...my maternity leave concludes, and even though it was my longest (previous leaves were 6 and 10 weeks respectively), this feels the most difficult to conclude.
I sort of feel like I've been given a bucket list and tomorrow I'm about to walk the plank to my demise. Just imagine Goonies with Sloth "yawing" in the background and that creepy Mama Fratelli poking me in the back with one eyed Willy's sword.
I want to do everything at once; soak up every molecule of Gus and spend days with him splayed on my chest, freshly nursed, researching a way to Peter Pan him and keep him a boy forever (minus the pesky shadow and green tights).
Maybe because he is my last of everything...maybe because I spent 12 weeks invested in fully loving him and getting to know him and not freaking out over a premature baby or cancer.
It's not that I want to be a full time stay at home mother. Sure there are compelling moments and reasons to do so. Here is a great piece on not regretting being a SAHM. But over time, I've realized that:
- I don't want to foreclose on my house (ie, financially, I need to work for our family),
- the socialization and education my children have received at their particular childcare, which I know is unique, is something I am confident I cannot replicate on my own,
- I readily admit that I am selfish and want to have time in my life to challenge myself professionally and make a go at a career, and sadly
- I personally believe taking myself out of the working arena will make it more difficult for me to re-enter if I stayed at home full time.
People keep throwing this whole Lean In movement at me when I talk about being a career woman. Listen, I can't even finish each month's book club selection and just go to the meetings for free bubbly and good conversation, so the chances of me reading the book right now are slim. But my husband keeps sending me great articles from The Atlantic, which I can easily read under the covers at night in anticipation of Gus's late night snacks at the booby bar. And one of the most recent articles put a lot of things into perspective...while the slant is weighted on gender issues, the general thesis is that the solution to the work-life conundrum is establishing social supports that allow families to function...whether or not the load is being shared [between men and women equally] doesn’t matter if the load is still unbearable. It will not become bearable once women lean in, or once the consciousness is raised, or once men are full partners, always, in domestic life. It will become bearable when decidedly more quotidian things become commonplace—like paid parental leave and affordable, quality day care. And I add, longer PAID maternity leave for women.
Whoa. That soapbox flew under my feet without my permission.
So this whole transition is branded with ambivalence at best. But I can say with certainty that another 3-6 months of maternity would probably do a Mama good right about now. And after watching the following 3 minutes, I'm sure you'll see why. (insert tears).