My maternity leave ended far too quickly. I’m sure most moms feel this way. I say most because i did not feel the same way when my maternity leave ended with Jayme 7 years ago. I remember being excited to rejoin the world, but now?, I wish I could stay home with her another week or 10. A huge difference might be that Jayme stayed home with my mom for 2 years, Alex is starting school at a tender 4 months.
I’m going back to work because obviously we could do with the income but I also genuinely love my job. Being a teacher is not glamorous and its got way too much admin but it is one of the most rewarding occupations out there.
I avoided thinking about going back for as long as possible. That was probably not the best way to deal with it. You need a plan. You need to apply to a school before they are all full or find a caregiver for your precious little one. My maternity leave timing was such a Blessing and i definitely had things easier than loads of other moms. When my leave ended i needed to go back to work for 2 days, a Thursday and Friday at the end of the year. I took my kids with me. The learners at my school was already on holiday and after those 2 days I could stay home for another 3 weeks. Pure bliss! It didn’t hit me yet at that point that my leave had ended. As the school holidays started drawing to an end the reality began playing on my emotions. I felt guilty that I wanted to go back to work and for choosing to send Alex to daycare so young. Unfortunately for me, my body shows signs of me going through a stressful time by my hair falling out. I should have know that my abnormal calmness was exactly that, Abnormal!
That Monday 7 January crept up on me so fast. The day I returned to my regular job. The schools had not opened yet so Alex and Jayme was home with my husband and sister for those first two days. Then the actual big day arrived. 9 January 2019, the day I give my kids over to a teacher in the hopes that they will love and care for them in the same way that i do for every learner that I teach.
I woke up that morning with a huge lump in my throat. Jayme was so amped to start his grade 2 year. He got ready in record time. This only happens on the first day. Packing Alex’s bags was another hard thing to do. I had everything ready, checked it twice and kept questioning myself whether I was making a good choice.
In the busyness of the morning my emotions took a back seat. I knew they were there, waiting for the perfect moment to break free. That moment came as soon as we all got into the car. I couldn’t hold it back any longer. The tears flowed. I felt broken. Filled with guilt, sadness and a strange sense of pride in the new journey we were taking on. I did not expect it would be that hard, but it was.
We arrived at Jayme’s school, took him to his class, signed him in and found his desk. I sat with him at his desk for a moment, prayed with him for his year and over his class. Just as I thought I had my tears under control, they came again, mid prayer. I was leaving him completely in God’s hands and stepping aside, this was another tough moment for me. Not a minute later he ran off to play with his friends and I looked like the crazy mamma with the blood shot green eyes.
Next we dropped Alex with her amazing new teachers. Her drop off was much easier. She is next door to my school and i know her teachers, she is in excellent hands. It probably also helps that she is still to young to show separation anxiety when i left.
What got me through the first day?
Firstly, I kept busy. From the minute I walked in at work it was go, go, go. I thrive in a fast paced, busy environment.
Secondly, I received updates from Alex’s teacher on how she was doing throughout the day. Jayme’s teacher also sent a video but I understand that primary school teachers won’t as easily be able to update. It really gives you piece of mind when the caregiver updates you and you get a glimpse of your baby in that environment without you there.
They started on a Wednesday and I fetched them early for the first few days. I did this for me. So I could ease myself into the idea of not having them with me all day anymore. I was exhausted from work and coming home with them on those first three days and being able to take a nap was everything. I’ve read a few other articles that advise that starting mid-week helps.
One of the biggest helps was surrounding myself with people that understand what I was going through in that moment. I was one of four teachers that returned from maternity leave and I have some amazing mama colleagues that know just what to say to cheer me up. I’ve heard the saying that you are just as good as your tribe and I am Blessed with an amazing work tribe.
We have gotten through this first difficult but amazing step and I know the rest of 2019 will be a fantastic journey.