Sunday, March 31, 2013

Not getting younger, but can still learn new tricks

Today is my last official day of maternity leave, which doesn't mean I go back to work tomorrow, just that it is the last day the government will continue to pay me not to.

What's that? Did some of you read that and think I meant I was planning to be a stay at home mum?



I'm not laughing because I don't value SAHMs - I admire them! They do a job that requires patience and creativity that I can only dream of! And some of them have kick ass blogs and websites that have saved me from death-by-bored-preschooler over the past year (Play At Home Mom LLC has fabulous activity ideas, Productive Parenting is a site I, unfortunately, just learned about a few weeks ago, and Is There Any Mommy Out There? has been my go-to for wisdom and laughs since Sam was born!). No, I'm much better at being a nurse. And working outside of the house helps me be a better mother to my kids (and better partner to my husband) than being at home. That's just me. No disrespect.

It just happens that the next shift in my rotation isn't until Sunday, so I'm kind of off an extra week - albeit unpaid. Having said that, I have been working up to 12 hours a week since October, but only picking up when I want to and mostly taking hours when David is home and/or the kids are in bed so that it doesn't interfere with family time or cost me anything in child care. That is worlds different from the scheduled 12 hour shifts I'm plunging back into next week. So, nevertheless, like most mothers returning to work, my feelings are a "mixed bag".

Before anyone scoffs at me for complaining, I wholeheartedly acknowledge that many women here and abroad don't get much time off, let alone paid, after having a baby. Even my best friend, whose lovely second daughter was born the same day as mine (how cool is that right?) didn't get a full year because her daughter is adopted and, in the GoC's eyes, that makes her somehow less deserving of having her mother home with her as long as babies whose mothers physically delivered them. Totally unfair right? If you agree, read this. So what I'm saying is, I appreciate the time that I have had - 52 weeks, four of which David used to stay home with us as well, therefore bringing my time down to 48 weeks (but man, I needed his help in those early days so it was worth it).

Still. It sucks.

The full truth, though, is that it only partly sucks because of the leaving-the-kids-behind-thing. Don't get me wrong! A twelve hour day shift means that I'm out the door just as my kids are getting up in the morning and I'm home about an hour after bedtime. Even thinking about that makes my heart hurt. Crazy, right? That I should feel sad to miss the battles over brushing teeth, arguments over whose toy that is, or bargaining to watch another episode of Backyardigans. But I do. Because, as every mother knows, between all the whining and diapers and fighting, are moments like these . . .

 ~ Sigh ~ I fucking love my kids : )

The rest of it is that I'm feeling anxious about the work I'm going back to. A lot has changed on the unit in the past year. Some of the paperwork, certain policies, new gadgets, probably a bunch of other stuff I don't even know yet. And the unit itself has been under renovations that I had foolishly hoped would be completed before I returned. Ha. Silly me. I'm not concerned about the actual work of helping women birth their babies. I love that shit! But it doesn't happen in a vacuum and it's difficult to focus on the awesome part of your job when surrounded by so much upheaval.

So I'm working on a list (lover of lists that I am) of things I need to learn, re-learn, brush up on, get a crash course in, etc. during my first few sets back. I won't bore you with it : ) But it's a good tool for me. It will help me feel more in control of an overwhelming situation. And may also help those first painful shifts crawl by slightly faster.

Longer term coping will involve focusing on the positive moments, both at home and at work, and accepting the offerings and teachings of each day.