Not the Year I Thought it Would Be – Mommy Blogger

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Not the Year I Thought it Would Be – Mommy Blogger

July 15, 2020

Jen Boyle

 

I just finished my second maternity leave and it was not the year I thought it would be.

Actually, that’s not 100% true. In terms of the sleep deprivation, challenges with nursing, the loneliness and the mushy brain, it was the year I expected. I didn’t experience the shock of becoming a mother that I went through the first time, though adding to our family had its challenges.

I had a different feeling approaching my second maternity leave because I knew it would be my last. I was excited to meet my little baby, but I also thought about what would my life look at after I was finished the year at home. When you plan to have more children, there is this feeling of not quite settling back into your career because you know you might leave again. My husband and I had decided on two children, so I knew this would be my last and I wanted to make the most of the time away. While raising children is no easy task, I wanted to enjoy the year of not having to balance both work and home.

With this mindset, I inadvertently pushed myself to have everything figured out by the end of maternity leave. To know my next steps at work, to have a clear direction on personal and professional growth, and to figure out my 5-10 year plan. I also turned 40 while on leave and that lit a fire under me to stop daydreaming and start taking action on my goals.

So how did the year go? Did I accomplish what I thought I would? Yes and no.

I had to go slow in the beginning to recover from a c-section. This was really challenging, even though it was my second one, but I hadn’t accounted for how much harder it would be to heal while caring for a baby and a toddler. During the middle of my leave, in the winter months, I settled into the mom role and spent most days home, snuggling my baby, watching cooking shows and making trips to Starbucks or Walmart for some excitement. At the end, the global pandemic hit and the world went into lockdown, which meant the last months of leave were spent with everyone at home, limited trips out of the house and heavy dose of fear in the news. Figuring out my life plan was not exactly at the top of my list.

Now that my maternity leave is over and I’m back to work (albeit from home), I think yes, I did accomplish quite a bit even though it looked differently than I thought. I read lots of books, often during lengthy nursing sessions in the middle of the night. I listened to podcasts while driving around to help my little guy nap. I signed up for an online business course and started the work. I haven’t finished yet, but I will keep at it. But those things aren’t the areas where I actually grew and changed the most.

I grew as a mother. In the first few days, I was terrified to be left alone with both kids as I had no idea how I would manage two of them. Fast-forward 12 months, and I can confidently take both of them out anywhere (after some pre-planning around their cranky times, recent consumption of snacks and ensuring I have emergency candy in my bag just in case everything goes to hell).

I grew in my flexibility, even though this is still hard for me. I can’t count the times I had a plan in my head for how the day would go and have it all fall apart. My ability to rebound more calmly and to go to plan B (or C or D) is stronger now than it was a year ago.

I learned to reprioritize, and to do so quickly. When the pandemic hit, it was easy to drop everything that wasn’t vital to my family’s health and safety. Cancelling things that would have caused me guilt or having to say no to people was suddenly easy, if not exhilarating.

I grew in acceptance of the new me that I am now. My post-baby body and mind are definitely different after baby #2 and didn’t “bounce back” as quickly (or at all) like it did after baby #1. I had a really hard time with this in the beginning and it has gotten easier over time.

So while the year wasn’t exactly the year I thought it would be, it was still a good year. A tough year. A fun year. A weird year. A learning year.

I used to think it would be nice to work from home and have flexibility in my day so that I could spend more time with my kids. I stopped the other day and realized, that’s exactly what I have right now. And while it’s not easy to balance work with kids at home and I know this phase won’t last forever, I actually am living the life that I had once imagined and that’s pretty cool.

I am grateful for the last year, for the ups and downs and for bringing me to where I am now. I still don’t have it all figured out yet and maybe that’s the lesson I needed to learn the most this past year.

 

 

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