Going back to work from maternity leave was so hard, I put it off

I was pretty sure my son would be okay, but I was a whole lot less sure that I would.

Going back to work from maternity leave was so hard, I put it off

I remember the nerves I felt when it was time to talk to my boss about maternity leave. I knew in my heart that I wanted to take a significant amount of time off to be with my baby, but I couldn't help but feel like I was letting her, and the school where I taught, down.

My boss could not have been more supportive. We talked about me coming back a year later as a tentative plan. And just as everyone warned me it would, time flew by and before I knew it—my son was approaching his first birthday.


I felt a mild sense of panic set in whenever I thought about returning to work. I was pretty sure my son would be okay, but I was a whole lot less sure that I would.

I needed more time and thankfully my boss was, once again, super understanding.

But three months later, she contacted me again and I didn't feel the same sense of panic anymore. I still felt unsure, but along with the sadness I felt at the thought of giving up time with my son, I also felt excitement about seeing my colleagues again and returning to the work that I love.

But nothing could prepare me for how hard my first few weeks back at work were. There were three things in particular that were especially hard for me, but also helped me grow.

1. Letting go of control

I'm pretty much as type-A as it gets. I was lucky enough to know and trust the people who would be caring for my son while I was teaching, but it was still incredibly hard for me to give up control.

I no longer totally controlled his nap schedule. His class took one mid-day nap, while he was still used to taking two, so we needed to adapt.

I no longer controlled the germs he was exposed to. Even with a very clean classroom, he has had so, so many colds and sniffles since starting school.

I no longer controlled everything he played with. This was not really a problem, as everything in his classroom is beautiful and purposeful, but it did make me sad to think he might have a favorite toy I'm not even aware of.

Not knowing how he spends half of his day has been hard. I have no idea who he likes to spend time with or what he likes to do when he's at school.

It has helped me remember though that he is his own person, living his own life, and it's okay for me not to control Every. Single. Detail. We can still be just as close, just as attached at the heart, even if my picture of his day has blurry spots.

2. Missing other moms

Why is it that all organized activities for parents and kids seem to be scheduled for nine or 10 o'clock in the morning?

We used to go to so many story times and I genuinely miss those types of activities, both to connect with other moms and to watch my son interact with other children.

As a relatively shy introvert, it was hard for me to build up a group of mom friends and it's been even harder to keep that going now that we can't attend most of the events they go to regularly.

I've been clinging to the one afternoon story time near us and trying my hardest to maintain the friendships I've built, but it hasn't been easy.

I've had to push myself to reach out, to invite people over and to be the one who organizes social activities, which doesn't come naturally to me. I've had to embrace quality over quantity, to realize that while I can't do nearly as many social things as we used to, I can still nurture a few really deep friendships.

3. Feeling like I want to do so much more (because there's more to do)

Apart from just generally missing my little guy, this was, and remains, the hardest part about working outside the home for me.

Of course I feel like things piled up before. There is always laundry to fold and the dishwasher always seems to need unloading. But going back to work brought on a new feeling, one of inadequacy, both at home and at work.

I can no longer devote the same amount of time to my classroom as I did before having a child. I can no longer devote the same amount of time to my home as I did before I went back to work.

This has been incredibly hard for my type-A, perfectionist self to come to terms with.

It means we eat simpler dinners and the house isn't as clean.

It means I've all but abandoned the dusty cookbooks sitting on my shelf, full of fun toddler meal ideas.

It means that when I think of something I want to create for my classroom, it may take me a month instead of a day to get it ready.

But it also means that I have to be more flexible, more discerning about what really needs to get done, and a little more forgiving with myself. It means I have had to learn to ask for help.

I'm still working on being comfortable with always being a little bit behind, but I feel like the softening of my expectations may be a good thing.

Going back to work has been harder than I thought it would be in a lot of ways, but it has also been wonderful in some ways I didn't expect.

Now that I'm not with my son every waking moment of his day, I treasure our time together in a different way. I have always enjoyed and appreciated my time with my son, but now that it's more limited, I find it easier to be more intentional.

I am less tempted to scroll through my phone while he plays nearby.

I find myself taking mental snapshots of the perfect way his hair curls and tucking them away in my heart.

I truly look forward to and enjoy our time together and (almost) never feel like time is dragging.

I only hope that he feels the same way, that he understands that while we're not always together anymore, the time we do have is precious and means more to me than anything in the world.

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These are only the vitamins I give my children and here's why

It's hard to say who loves these more—my kids or me.

When I became a mama five years ago, I didn't put too much thought into whether my son was getting the right vitamins and minerals. From breastfeeding to steaming and pureeing his first bites of solid food, I was confident I was giving him everything to support his growth and development.

But then the toddler years—and the suddenly picky palate that accompanied them—came along. Between that challenge and two additional children in the mix… well, I knew my oldest son's eating plan was falling short in some vitamin and mineral categories.

I also knew how quickly he was growing, so I wanted to make sure he was getting the nutrients he needed (even on those days when he said "no, thank you" to any veggie I offered).

So when I discovered the new line of children's supplements from Nature's Way®, it felt like a serious weight off my chest. Thanks to supplements that support my children's musculoskeletal growth, their brain function, their immune systems, their eyes and more, I'm taken back to that simpler time when I was so confident my kids' vitamin needs were met.*

It wasn't just the variety of supplements offered by Nature's Way that won me over: As a vegetarian mama, I'm the picky one in the family when it comes to scanning labels and making sure they meet our standards. The trick is that most gummy vitamins are made with gelatin, which is not vegetarian friendly.

But just like the other offerings from Nature's Way that I've already come to know and love, the children's supplement line is held to a high standard. That means there's no high-fructose corn syrup, gelatin or common allergens to be found in the supplements. The best part? My two oldest kids ensure we never miss their daily vitamins—they are so in love with the gummy flavors, which include tropical fruit punch, lemonade and wild berry.

Nature's Way Kids Mulitvitamin

Meanwhile, my pharmacist husband has different criteria when evaluating supplements, especially when it comes to those for our kids. He appreciates the variety of options from Nature's Way, which gives us the ability to rotate the vitamins based on our kids' daily needs. By keeping various children's supplements from Nature's Way on hand, I can customize a regimen to suit my kids' individual requirements.

Of course, high-quality products often come at a higher price point. But (to my immense gratitude!) that isn't the case with Nature's Way, which retails for a competitive value when compared to the other items on the shelf.

Like all mamas, my chief concern is supporting my children's health in any way I can. While I see evidence of their growth every time I pack away clothes they've outgrown, I know there is much more growth that doesn't meet the eye. That's why, for my oldest son, I like stacking the Brain Builder gummy with the Growing Bones & Muscles gummy and the Happy & Healthy Multi. My 3-year-old also enjoys getting her own mix to include the Healthy Eyes gummy. And both of my older kids are quick to request the Tummy Soothe tablet when something isn't sitting right in their stomachs.* And I'll admit it: I've tried it myself and the berry blast flavor really is tasty!

Although my current phase of motherhood may not be as "simple" as it once was, there is so much to appreciate about it—like watching my kids play and sing and create with their incredible imaginations. Along the way, I've eased up on some of my need for control, but it does help to have this range of supplements in my motherhood tool kit. So while I may not be able to convince my son to try kale, having the Nature's Way supplements on hand means I do know he's right on track.*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food & Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

This article was sponsored by Nature's Way. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

Our Partners

I never wanted to be a mom. It wasn't something I ever thought would happen until I fell madly in love with my husband—who knew very well he wanted children. While he was a natural at entertaining our nephews or our friends' kids, I would awkwardly try to interact with them, not really knowing what to say or do.

Our first pregnancy was a surprise, a much-wanted one but also a unicorn, "first try" kind of pregnancy. As my belly grew bigger, so did my insecurities. How do you even mom when you never saw motherhood in your future? I focused all my uncertainties on coming up with a plan for the delivery of my baby—which proved to be a terrible idea when my dreamed-of unmedicated vaginal birth turned into an emergency C-section. I couldn't even start motherhood the way I wanted, I thought. And that feeling happened again when I couldn't breastfeed and instead had to pump and bottle-feed. And once more, when all the stress from things not going my way turned into debilitating postpartum anxiety that left me not really enjoying my brand new baby.

As my baby grew, slowly so did my confidence that I could do this. When he would tumble to the ground while learning how to walk and only my hugs could calm him, I felt invincible. But on the nights he wouldn't sleep—whether because he was going through a regression, a leap, a teeth eruption or just a full moon—I would break down in tears to my husband telling him that he was a better parent than me.

Then I found out I was pregnant again, and that this time it was twins. I panicked. I really cannot do two babies at the same time. I kept repeating that to myself (and to my poor husband) at every single appointment we had because I was just terrified. He, of course, thought I could absolutely do it, and he got me through a very hard pregnancy.

When the twins were born at full term and just as big as singleton babies, I still felt inadequate, despite the monumental effort I had made to grow these healthy babies and go through a repeat C-section to make sure they were both okay. I still felt my skin crawl when they cried and thought, What if I can't calm them down? I still turned to my husband for diaper changes because I wasn't a good enough mom for twins.

My husband reminded me (and still does) that I am exactly what my babies need. That I am enough. A phrase that has now become my mantra, both in motherhood and beyond, because as my husband likes to say, I'm the queen of selling myself short on everything.

So when my babies start crying, I tell myself that I am enough to calm them down.

When my toddler has a tantrum, I remind myself that I am enough to get through to him.

When I go out with the three kids by myself and start sweating about everything that could go wrong (poop explosions times three), I remind myself that I am enough to handle it all, even with a little humor.

And then one day I found this bracelet. Initially, I thought how cheesy it'd be to wear a reminder like this on my wrist, but I bought it anyway because something about it was calling my name. I'm so glad I did because since day one I haven't stopped wearing it.

Every time I look down, there it is, shining back at me. I am enough.

I Am Enough bracelet 

SONTAKEY  I Am Enough Bracelet

May this Oath Bracelet be your reminder that you are perfect just the way you are. That you are enough for your children, you are enough for your friends & family, you are enough for everything that you do. You are enough, mama <3


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It's science: Why your baby stops crying when you stand up

A fascinating study explains why.

When your baby is crying, it feels nearly instinctual to stand up to rock, sway and soothe them. That's because standing up to calm babies is instinctual—driven by centuries of positive feedback from calmed babies, researchers have found.

"Infants under 6 months of age carried by a walking mother immediately stopped voluntary movement and crying and exhibited a rapid heart rate decrease, compared with holding by a sitting mother," say authors of a 2013 study published in Current Biology.

Even more striking: This coordinated set of actions—the mother standing and the baby calming—is observed in other mammal species, too. Using pharmacologic and genetic interventions with mice, the authors say, "We identified strikingly similar responses in mouse pups as defined by immobility and diminished ultrasonic vocalizations and heart rate."

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