Did I not just have her yesterday? Are you sure?
Going-back-to-work thoughts have been creeping in lately, as the end of my maternity leave looms. I have been fighting them off, living in the moment, soaking up the time I will never get back. The first two months felt as though they went forever, when you’re stumbling step-by-step through the unpredictable days, the endless feeding, the feeling like you’ve been hit by a truck and there’s still a toddler who wants a bowl of “ceerpal” for breakfast RIGHT NOW. The next two months were spent trying to slow down time as you can see them growing and changing before your eyes while the days fly by. And even though I tried really hard this time to imprint it all in my memory, I can barely remember those first weeks. Perhaps it is a self-preservation act by our brain, I don’t know. Biggie’s first weeks were the same, and I always regretted not paying more attention before it was all over. Now I realise that it’s almost impossible to remember clearly.
I love, love, LOVE my job. I teach media law to journalism students at university, and it’s something I am passionate about. I edit and maintain the journalism school’s website, showcasing students’ work. I co-ordinate a team of interns every semester who write sport stories for our local newspaper, like a mini editorial team. I love it all. I want to go back. I want to immerse myself in it. I had a meeting the other day and I felt the same way I always do at the start of every year: energised, motivated, excited. I am only physically on campus one day a week, the rest I do from home – it couldn’t be a better arrangement for me. I am home with my babies all day every day besides – living the stay-at-home mum dream (well, work-at-home!) and being as flexible as I like with my days. My freelance writing commitments get met at naptime and after they’ve gone to bed. It’s a system that works for me.
Bigs was five months when she first went to the daycare on campus that one day a week while I had class. I had been doing bits and pieces here and there from home, and I was ready to get back into it. She was an “easy” baby and I more than love being a mum, but I also enjoyed what working afforded me. Smalls will be five months when I start teaching again in March and I can’t believe how different I feel. Not about going back to work, because I’m excited about that. Not about Smalls going in to day care one day a week, because I love that day care and I think they do a phenomenal job caring for my children. Biggie loves it there and I have no doubt Smalls will too. No, I think my maudlin weirdness is totally due to this part of my life being over. The growing of babies. The birthing of babies. The newborn bubble that the real world doesn’t infringe on. I have said before, once they’re grown and I’m back at work, they’re grown and I’m back at work. I don’t get this time ever again in my life and I’m acutely aware of it. I didn’t expect to have two babies quite so close together and I feel like Smalls materialised into a human so rapidly I didn’t have time to long for a pregnancy again, to psych myself up for a newborn. I was pregnant and then she was born and now I’m going to work and wow what the hell just happened? And while I fell pregnant six months earlier than I was perhaps planning, and I’m overthinking this period of my children’s lives, I am SO glad she came when she did. But the suddenness of it all meant I couldn’t drag out this special period for very long.
Sure I could not go back to work. I’d be ok. But I don’t think that’s it. I think it is just the realisation that an era is ending and whether that happens now or in six months or a year doesn’t matter. I would feel the same way at any time. And to be honest, my life won’t change much going back to work one day a week, it will feel very much like it does now. But I will have crossed an invisible line that marks off a section of my life, and it’s interesting (and slightly weird) to be so conscious of it.
My name is Stacey and I’m overthinking this. Hello!