Eight-Year Maternity Leave

With dusk came dread and envy. The nights felt long as my desperation for sleep intensified. I would think of everyone else readying for bed, myself eager to also curl under the covers for eight uninterrupted hours. Instead, I would be up every couple to nurse, rock, change diapers and then repeat. Any predictability or glamour was buried and I questioned if it would ever surface again. When I crawled out of bed to my crying baby, was a rude awakening of the true meaning of a positive pregnancy test and the life changes that ensued.

Eight years and two children later, my second child’s imminent last day of preschool is fast approaching, leaving me only a few sweet months before my boy embarks to kindergarten in the Fall. With this day also comes dread and envy: dread for the moment he bids me adieu and envy for just one more brief second to relive those sleepless nights as I cuddled my babies.

When my daughter was born, I started my eight-year maternity leave. While I did so without reservation, I wish I could say I owned that title of stay-at-home mom and it’s not until recently that I did. Controversy and judgment, no matter where in the world, comes with this territory and I no doubt felt subject to both. I read articles supporting stay-at-home moms and equally those that supported working moms. I knew my heart was at home, yet I second-guessed myself constantly.

While I cherished the time with my children, its respective difficulties seemed to halt time. Every so often I put myself in time outs, only to have a moment to breathe. The drain of nursing (literally), the blow outs, begging my children to take just one bite of dinner, wrestling them on the toilet while potty training (while it doesn’t sound effective, I promise you it was), the billion tantrums, and essentially striving to mold my two children into loving, caring and driven human beings, took its toll. Countering that were the toothless smiles, first words, crooked sprints as they learned to walk, wobbly bike rides sans training wheels as we chased them down the track, and essentially celebrating every milestone and the beautiful people they continue to grow into.

While my children blossomed, I too changed. How can one not? An unearthed love for cooking emerged, a newfound fervor for health and exercise developed, an unexpected drive to write was sparked, and most of all, new characteristics were forced to develop – mainly patience, although still and always a work in progress.

My children taught me more about life and myself than I ever thought possible. While I grumbled through most some of those moments, I thank God for them. Those whinges (hands down the best slang I took from Australia – used to describe whiney children; pronounced wind-ja) were in tow with me everywhere I went. Every errand may have taken ten times as long with the occasional yell between gritted teeth, but once both Littles are in school full time, my buddies will be sorely missed.

My youngest has been in preschool for a couple of years, allowing me to ease into a few hours alone. While my solo status is loved, I even complain that it’s sometimes not long enough. I’m that woman whose cart is half full at Costco and I have three minutes to check out before I’m officially late for school pick-up, so I tap the shoulder of the first person in line and ask to cut. The silver lining of all day school is that my chances of speeding tickets will decrease as currently I zip around town with the limited time I have.

However, I have not eaten lunch alone in over eight years. It will take some adjusting (and a large glass of wine), but I’m thankful for the years at home with my children. I have some projects planned, including potential part-time work come September, but I remain stunned that it was almost nine years ago that two lines stared back at me, defining the first day of the rest of my life.

While I understand my kids are not going off to college, but rather just gearing up for kindergarten and third grade, it’s a new milestone for my family and any parent knows each milestone entails pain.  Tears have been shed as I squeeze my Little Ones and wish for time to freeze. I look forward to a highly anticipated summer and will treasure our time together. As we all grow busier, time flies faster, so I try to remind myself that through the good, bad and ugly, my little family is my world and I cherish every moment. But again, how did I jump so quickly from my baby bump to kindergarten and third grade?!? Meanwhile, Brian and I are in a so-called sweet spot with our children’s ages and for that, we are thankful. Cheers to the next chapter!

me and kids

Photo by Elle Images

aa on bridge 1

Photo by Elle Images

playing in leaves

Photo by Elle Images



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