I’ll be the first to admit that making the life-changing decision to have a baby on my own terms is a privilege. My husband and I have been beyond fortunate to plan our children without much effort in the process. A key factor in our family planning and decision making is our financial situation, very closely coupled with our career needs and goals. Again, a huge privilege.
Having two full-time working adults on the verge of adding to their family means planning for a leave of absence from work. In my case, of course, it’s maternity leave. Back to the acknowledgment of privilege – I’m lucky to be able to take 12 weeks to recover from childbirth and bond with my child, all while knowing my job is protected under federal law.
Now. Just because I’m about to have a baby literally any day now, and will be taking advantage of the 12 weeks of leave I’m privileged to have available to me, doesn’t mean I stopped caring about my job, or have completely “checked out.”
Am I physically uncomfortable? Yup.
Am I mentally drained, more than ever? You betcha.
Am I trying to wrap up projects as cleanly as possible and make sure I have the right coverage? Sure am.
Am I exhausted beyond all things on earth? Uh-huh.
Am I coming back to work in 3 months as a working mom of two? You better believe it.
To say I’ve stopped caring about my work is simply untrue, and it may actually be the complete opposite.
First, being a maternity leave veteran (a title given after surviving just one maternity leave), I know first and foremost that maternity leave is not a walk in the park. It’s NOT a vacation. It’s probably one of the hardest times in the life of a family welcoming a new addition. Sure, the emails, conference calls, and deadlines aren’t there, but you know what is? A tiny life that depends on you for everything 24 hours a day, without a care in the world if you’re tired, sick, or still recovering from the physical and emotional toll of childbirth.
Second, please don’t forget that I’m coming back to work in 3 months. It seems like a long time, but in the big picture, it’s a brief moment in time. Yes, I will miss a lot of important projects, and a lot of work will happen in my absence, and I can’t reiterate enough how grateful I am for my co-workers covering for me while I’m out, but I will be back. Not only does my family depend on my income, but my mental health depends on me being able to utilize the part of my brain that allows for critical thinking and the delight of adult, usually sarcastic, conversation that I crave on a daily basis.
And because I’ll be back in 3 months, as a working mother of two, I probably care more than ever about how I wrap things up before I go on leave. Work will always be crazy, mom life is challenging on the best of days, and adding another child, who will likely still not be sleeping through the night, will be a tough transition. The last thing I want to come back to when I log back in after 12 weeks is a train wreck while I’m worried about how much milk I’m able to produce for my infant from a machine in between (and probably even during) conference calls.
I signed up for all of this 100%. I’m privileged to be able to have children and be employed full-time. I’m proud of what I’ve been able to accomplish in my career and in motherhood so far. I care about both – a lot, and I look forward to seeing what this next chapter will bring in both of these essential parts of my life.