It felt much like a first day of school.
You don’t know that feeling yet, but some day, after a summer vacation that seems to have gone by all too quickly, you’ll go to bed at night with butterflies in your stomach that mark the anticipation of what the next day will bring. A new school year—a new chapter.
I felt those butterflies. I felt the anticipation. And I had anxiety. Because today, my maternity leave officially ended and I returned to work.
I was so sad to leave you, but I have to admit… it wasn’t as bad as when I left your sister. I don’t love you any less than I do her, but—much like other rites of passage in motherhood—I’ve done this before. I know that you’re not going to forget me while I’m away from you. I know that you’re not going to love me any less. I know that my bond with you, as my child, will still be stronger than with anyone else in the world.
I am so, so tremendously thankful for the twelve weeks that I had at home with you. I loved all those mornings that I spent snuggling with you on the couch, cherishing the way the weight of your body—completely relaxed—felt on my chest. I spent so much time just staring into your little face. I planted countless kisses on your cheeks, lips, nose, eyes, and the top of your fuzzy little head.
With Nora, I spent much of my maternity leave worrying, stressing over details of her routine like establishing nap schedules and being sure not to “spoil” her by holding her too much. Don’t get me wrong, I still spent a lot of time holding her, but my mind was always spinning, wondering about the “right” thing to do, and analyzing the possible effects of my parenting choices. With you, almost all of that worry was gone. I shamelessly held you for hours and hours. Just as I knew from experience that we would both be okay this morning, I also knew from experience on my maternity leave that I needed to do nothing but SOAK.IT.IN. Eat it up. Cherish every single second.
So I did. And wow, I am still so sad that it’s over.
But you did great at your first day of daycare. Your big sister was so excited to bring you with her. As we got ourselves ready this morning and I was packing bags, she ran around the house on my heels, asking, “What do we need now, Mommy?” and talking through it all with me. At one point she said to me, “Mommy, you need bottles! You need bottles to feed Vivienne!” And she was absolutely right. I did need to grab your bottles out of the fridge.
As we drove to Mary’s, Nora chatted from the back seat. She said, “Vivienne miss Mommy. But I take care of her.” And that was the only time I felt a real threat of tears. In that moment, your 3-year-old sister simultaneously made me feel so much better—because I knew you’d be with her—and also completely broke my heart. But I felt so happy. So proud to have given you both the wonderful gift of sisterhood. How lucky you both are.
I carried you with me, as part of me, for nearly a year when you account for both my pregnancy and maternity leave. It’s hard to let you go. It is the plight of the working mother, and for lack of a better word… it sucks. Maybe some day, you will also know this same, bittersweet feeling when you return to work after having your own babies.
I’m so sad for all that I’ll miss, but I’m so happy for all that you’ll gain. In the years to come, I know you’ll be coming home with new words. New phrases. New mannerisms. New knowledge. All things that you’ve learned not from me, but from being away from me. From Mary. From friends. From TV, even. And all of that is GOOD for you. Last week, Nora suddenly started asking “Can I be excused?” after meals. And you know what? We’ve never taught her that. Mary did. And Mary will teach you, too.
So, Vivienne… we made it through the first day. I think I’m going to miss you more and more as the week goes on, actually, because it’ll start sinking in that this is very real. It’s not just one day; this is going to be our new normal.
I’ll be counting the minutes until 5 o’clock. I’ll be counting the hours until the weekend.
Your smile will always brighten my day. I love you, and thank you for such a wonderful, unforgettable twelve weeks.
AboutI'm Heather. I'm 31 and have been married to Michael for five years. Together, we have two beautiful little girls we love more than anything, and a miniature dachshund who drives us crazy. I'm a full-time working mom who has very little time for my own "stuff" these days, like home improvement, cooking/baking, cake decorating, and photography. Despite the team not making the playoffs since 1999, I'm STILL a Buffalo Bills fan, which I think speaks to my loyalty AND sense of humor. I can't wait to pick up the pace with travel again some day... you know, when we're done being ruled by tiny fists. Welcome to my blog.
Heather Drive Archives