Dear Son, as I Go Back to Work
I'm going back to work in a few days, after having spent eight blissful, hard, and character-building months at home with you.
I always knew this day would come but when I was pregnant, feeling you move around in my belly, it felt so far away. I used to daydream about what our days together would look like. We'd cuddle in bed together in the morning. You'd play quietly as I sipped my coffee, drinking you in at the same time. We'd take long afternoon walks. You'd nap peacefully while I did some housework and made dinner. I laugh now because my visions were far from reality.
There was a time in the early days of new motherhood that part of me didn't even know if I would make it. I mean, logically I knew I would, that I would persevere. I wouldn't give up on you. Emotionally, though, our first few months at home together drained me. You were fussy. You didn't sleep. You hated the stroller and car seat. My love for you was fierce, never wavering. But my ability to spend my days at home with a screaming newborn? That I questioned.
Now I know you were simply telling me what you needed. You were teaching me how to take care of you. You're a strong-willed boy and even though it tests my patience at times, you're just the son I needed too. You made me mama, and in doing so you taught me how to put someone else's needs ahead of my own, how to love unconditionally.
So, we learned how to work as a team. As your digestive tract matured you grew in a happy and inquisitive baby and I came to love our days at home together. Now, as a quickly as we settled into a routine, it's changing again, and I'm not quite ready. I consider myself lucky because my work is flexible and I only need to work outside of the house part-time. We'll still have plenty of time together; I know this.
Still, as much as I'm looking forward to emerging from my current baby bubble and having more contact with the outside world, I don't want things to change. Your wellbeing has been the only thing I've had to worry about these past months, and now there will be more demands for my time and attention. I know you're in good hands, that you'll thrive by being exposed to new caregivers and a new environment a few days a week, but selfishly I don't want to let you go. I'm looking forward to exercising my mind in ways I haven't been able to recently, but I'm terrified to no longer being the only one you spend your days with as you learn and grow. I'm equal parts excited and dreadful.
Like most aspects of motherhood, I feel ambivalent about returning to work, but one thing is certain: there will be ups and downs, but we will make it work. We always do.
Brittany Van Den Brink is a PhD Candidate and freelance writer living in small-town Ontario with her husband, baby son, and their Golden Retriever, Chevy. She founded Motherhood Her Way to collaborate with other moms as they go through the ups and downs of motherhood. Say hi on Instagram @brittanyvandenbrink.