Today is a day I’ve been dreading since before I gave birth. It’s my first day back to work following maternity leave. Instead of spending the entire day sulking yesterday, my loving husband obliged me by taking a neighborhood family walk, and I decorated the house in hopes of lifting my spirits.
I am feeling a slew of emotions—I cried at least three times this morning—but I decided to be proactive about this. I’ve come up with a few mantras to try my best to keep it together and not break down (too much, anyway) at work:
1. Breathe in. Breathe out.
I will count my blessings. Having a job makes me fortunate. Working hard makes me proud. I’m grateful: Paid maternity leave is not guaranteed in the United States. At least I had slightly more than three months to bond with my beautiful baby boy while still earning income. A lot of moms are not as lucky. In fact, I know some of them.
2. Be present when I’m there & be as present as possible when I’m physically not.
I’ll stay off my laptop and cell phone as much as possible when I am home. I’ll FaceTime during lunch when I’m at work. We’ll still be seeing each other; it’s just that sometimes it will be through technological features.
3. Keep everything in perspective.
I will remember I am working for him and our family. Though I was lucky enough to have a stay-at-home-mom, many moms work. In fact, most moms with kids under the age of 18 do.
4. Let myself be sad.
I’ll be okay with not being totally okay about this, especially in the beginning. I will let myself miss him. But I will also know that it will grow more routine, if not easier, with time. I won’t wallow in the sadness.
5. Focus on the moments I have, not the moments I’m missing.
I will enjoy my time with him. I will still make wonderful memories with my boy. He will not forget me. He will still love me. He will be excited when I walk in the door every day and he will still want and need his mommy.
After all, even though I’m leaving him during the days, I’ll be in his heart all the time.
A version of this article originally appeared on Just Bloom.