Here’s what I learned.
Last week I went back to work. After eight weeks of maternity leave, a C-section and a brand new baby, I had to return to the real world. I had to put away my over-sized sweat pants and ratty t-shirts. I had to get my dress clothes out from the back of the closet. I had to find my makeup and hair dryer. I had to start taking showers regularly. I had to pull it together.
It was intense and I learned A LOT about myself in that first week back:
Going back to work is very emotional
I thought that pregnancy and a C-section were hard. But then I went from spending every waking moment taking care of my tiny baby boy to actually having to take care of and think of me. I definitely shed a tear or two. I worried that I was going back too soon.
But, you know what? It was really nice.
It made me feel like the old me again. The me that sort of had her stuff together and left the house with a bra on. I successfully emerged from the dark hole of new baby survival mode. I was a human again. A functioning human that wore real shoes and outfits that matched.
Exhaustion is real
I missed eight weeks of work. My first day back I had over 400 emails. I spent my first week catching up, responding to emails, taking phone calls, attending meetings and trying to squeeze in a lunch break.
By the time I got home each night I was so exhausted I didn't know which way was up. But then I had to revert back into mom mode and play, snuggle, bathe the babies, read bedtime stories and get everything ready for the next day. By the time both kids were in bed I thought I was going to fall asleep standing up. There was no energy left to even catch up on Project Runway. I was in bed by 9 pm each night.
A few times I sat there and wondered if this is what my new normal will be. Will I always be this exhausted? I don't have the answer to that yet but I'm praying it gets easier week by week.
I shouldn't feel guilty for working full time
My first week back to work was absolutely insane. But I loved it. I enjoyed myself. I talked to people that could actually talk back to me. The truth is, I love to work and I'm good at it. It felt amazing to do something I excel at again. I felt like an adult. I felt like myself again. I know that I might miss lunches with my kids and a field trip or two, but that's okay. I have to do what is best for me sometimes.
I'm kind of amazing
I can juggle being a mom of two little boys and working full time like a freaking champ. It's not easy. But I did it. And I just proved that I can be a mom and an awesome career woman at the same time. You don't have to pick one or the other. Because you know what happened? BOTH of my kids got pink eye on Monday and Tuesday of my first week back. BOTH! Seriously?
But in between sending emails, taking phone calls and attending meetings, I managed to make sure they were both picked up by the sitter, taken to the doctor, got their prescriptions filled, and taken care of until I could pick them up later in the day and give them hugs and kisses while still keeping a safe distance from their swollen, gooey eyes. #MomWin
I am deserving of grace
Moms make mistakes. No one is perfect. Besides sending both my kids to the babysitter with pink eye, I also made other errors.
I forgot to pack a pacifier in the diaper bag for my newborn.
I sat through an hour of a meeting before realizing I had baby poop on my hand.
I fed my toddler expired yogurt.
I wore two different shoes to work one day.
I don't think I had an actual conversation with my husband all week.
I left an important bill in my car for five days instead of mailing it.
I drank so much caffeine to stay awake that I could have picked up a car.
But you know what? We are all still alive. No one got food poisoning or lost an appendage. My husband realized my life had been insane. And I granted myself some grace. Because I deserved it.
What a week. I have come to realize that I really underestimate myself sometimes. I am capable of so much. I can be a mom, a career woman, a housekeeper, a chauffeur and juggle a million other balls.
Don't ever underestimate yourself. Because you are a bad ass too. You can do this. You might think you can't. You can cry. You can cuss. But you can do it. Because you are a mom and moms get it done.