Before starting maternity leave I made a list of side projects to do since (I assumed) I’d have more time on my hands. I thought maybe this would help me expand my creative skill set that might apply to work or something else somehow, one day. I wanted to teach myself how to code, practice more handlettering, create a distinct illustration style, photograph my so called “wonderful” DIY life and make a mommy blog. You know, just the normal stuff moms do on maternity leave. I was on a four month quest to reevaluate who I was and wanted to be.
So fast forward 4 months later. I’m back at work and what have I accomplished? Maybe a little more knowledge of code, but that’s about it. I didn’t get to perfect my handlettering, create a distinct illustration style, or even take those silly pictures for the mommy blog. It’s my third week back and I’m kinda freaking out because I’m still the same designer 4 months ago.
As I sit and stare at my sketchbook on my daily commute to work, a young woman sitting next to me catches my attention. She notices my Madella bottles sticking out of my lunch bag and asks me if I’m carrying a breast pump. I laugh and we begin to exchange stories about our life. She’s a working mom too. Just like me, she has a 2 year old and 4 month baby. We carry our conversation about our kids, husbands, vans, breastfeeding, daycare, and work almost all the way to our offices. As we say goodbye, I continue walking away with a huge smile on my face. Then I remember what really happened in these past 4 months. I didn’t accomplish what I originally intended to do because I was busy with more important things.
I was busy waking up every 2 hours of the night consoling cries and changing diapers. I was busy giving kisses to my children after reading all the books that laid across the floor. I was busy feeding my newborn while my 2 year old demanded to turn on the TV as he hung from my back. And when I wasn’t at home I was busy making trips to daycare only to walk back to my car in tears after seeing my 2 year old stuck to the window yelling for me to come back. These past 4 months were incredibly challenging yet beyond fruitful. If there’s anything I’ve learned it’s that time is valuable. Work will come and go but I will always be a mom first. This is who I was meant to be.