If I hadn’t quit my job to start freelance writing from home, this would be my first week back at the office after a 12-week maternity leave (the max allowed by law — though embarrassingly short by other countries’ standards).
I remember vividly how painful and dizzying this time was three years ago, when I plunged back into fulltime “plus” mode at the office after 12 weeks off with Cassie. It was actually the subject of my very first post for this blog (“Memories … “) I marvel at how I (along with millions of other moms) was able to do it, and still do.
Returning from maternity leave as a freelancer is so different, and honestly, so much better. I didn’t have that ticking time-bomb date in my head, the day I’d have to rip myself away from my cozy family life and my sweet little infant for 10 or more hours, five days a week at the office. I could orchestrate a return to work that was comfortable for me and the kiddos (pictured here, looking adorable).
Starting last week, Cassie went to preschool in the mornings as usual, while James started going to Karen’s (his sitter’s) house. I pick up both kids at the school, bring them home for lunch, and try to get them to take coordinated naps in the afternoon (the jury’s still out on whether that will ever work). I have each morning to do some work, then try to squeeze in more work time where I can find it.
The first week I spent a lot of my freelance time reorganizing my home office and just taking a breath after nonstop childcare for 12 weeks. I did a little paying work, with more (hopefully) on the horizon. I didn’t have to experience that ripped-away feeling — more like a nice, comfortable break from the kids to be my “professional” self for a little while each day. Then I can do a lot more cuddling and playing (and of course butt-wiping and feeding), all while maintaining some semblance of order in my house.
I realize not everyone is suited for this kind of lifestyle, or able to swing it financially. For many moms, a return to the office is a return to normalcy and stability. But I believe more women should be able to choose this option if they want to. It seems like it would be good for a lot of families and the economy. (That’s why I’m a big fan of MomsRising, an organization that works to help moms succeed as “breadmakers and breadwinners.”)
I don’t feel the least bit guilty that I’m choosing to work fewer hours and spend more hours with my kids. This feels like the most natural thing in the world!