I Worry

Reflection on being a mother and returning to work

As Mother’s Day winds down, I finally have some time to set some thoughts to paper. Up until now, the lead up and day of has been filled with plans, juggling my son’s naps and activities for both sides of the family while still trying to take the time to recognize that this is my own first Mother’s Day.

I won’t wax poetry about my mother here. She knows how great she is and our family has never been one to share much on social networks. Instead, I wanted to take the time to reflect on my own motherhood.

And oh yeah, I am one week away from returning to work.

Full time. Cold turkey.

I am terrified.

There’s a lot of jumbled up feelings to sort through.

First I want to address my work fears.

Maybe a bit of background is in order. My job is tough in that it is mentally demanding. On any given day, I am balancing several delicate situation (oh office politics). I am a brand new manager on a team that is still trying to find itself. I am going back to a role, slightly modified from the one I had before. The person that substituted for me while I was gone for the past year is staying on. The company has been through a large reorganization while I was gone. Lots of people I’ve known are gone. Many others moved to different roles.

In other words, I have no idea what I am coming back to.

And then there’s my own mental state. I’ve noticed that my memory has been worse since I gave birth. Baby brains they call it. I worry about whether I’ll be as sharp, as good with people relationships as I used to be. I worry whether I’ll be able to catch up, whether I will be good enough, or somehow, in the year I was gone, those skills have become so rusty that I become practically useless on the team.

I also worry about not being able to be flexible and put in some extra hours when I can. I worry about whether my career has backslid in some way. I used to be a very career-oriented person and I was a bit of a workaholic. How will that change now? Will I be seen as less of a performer now? See, in Canada and in the company I work for, people are extremely progressive and family is very important. I have had friends come back and had their career advance right away upon their return. So I know that logically, already, I am way luckier than many others in say, the States. However, that nagging doubt is there. It’s always there.

See, I worry about many things.

And then, there are of course, the fears of a mother.

Again, I am incredibly lucky. My parents will be looking after my son while my husband and I are at work. After six months, when he reaches 18 months, we will look at the daycare situation but my parents are there, ready to take their grandson should we need it. They have spent pretty much my son’s entire life preparing for this, from finding and getting enough toys to buying playpen and potty and change table pads. It is an amazing situation. So why am I still worried?

I worry my son won’t love me as much now that I’m not spending as much time with him. I worry that he will miss my singing and crazy dance parties and walks in the middle of the day. I worry that I can’t get home in time to play with him. I worry about not being able to read him enough books, to soothe him when he is inconsolable. I worry that I won’t be able to be there and help him to transition from two to one naps. I worry about not being there for his firsts anymore.

I guess to really sum it up, I worry about not being there for him.

So yes, if anyone asks whether I’m ready to return to work, my immediate answer is “No.” But I laugh it off and joke that I really don’t want to go back, because to try to explain everything is overwhelming and emotional and I really doubt my son, who is always in a state of perpetual motion, will stay still long enough to let me explain. So I joke and leave it at that.

But in truth, I am scared shitless.

I just really hope I don’t end up crying on the first day of work.