I took the baby for a walk one sunny spring day, and we crossed at a school crossing, where the crossing guard complimented me on my beautiful baby girl. We got to talking—as you do when on mat leave, starved as you are for conversation with anyone over the age of five—and I told her that we moved to Oakville a year and a half ago and that I have another little girl who's three years old.
"Where is she?" the lady asked.
"Daycare," I replied. I explained that I'm on mat leave but will be going back to work in August.
She wasn't impressed, commenting that she would "never put her kids in daycare" when they're little. "They need three years with you," she said firmly.
I played the finances card, explaining that we need two incomes to live the life we want. We chatted some more and eventually, I went on my way.
But here's the thing: I'm not really going back to work for financial reasons. Having two kids in daycare is a huge cost. I'm going back to work because I need something more.
Let me first give a huge shout out to stay-at-home moms: I don't know how you do it. Seriously. When I'm on my own with both kids, I run out of activities that will amuse a three-year-old and a baby. And I find my patience and good spirits draining away like sand through an hourglass.
Don't get me wrong, I've enjoyed this mat leave—perhaps even more than my first one. I like the lazy, relaxed pace and not having to worry about what day it is. But I can't do this forever.
I miss the work environment. I miss drinking a coffee before it gets cold and making decisions that don't involve my children. I miss talking to people who can talk back. Heck, I miss going to the bathroom alone (if you have kids, you totally know what I'm talking about).
Most of all, I miss having an identity outside of my family. Of course I want to be a mom. But I was somebody before I had kids...and now I'm wondering exactly where that person went.
She'll come back, I'm sure. As soon as I'm back at my desk, sipping my morning coffee, reading my emails and getting ready to kick off a productive day.
And then, I'll miss my kids again.