When I think back to my months on maternity leave, the memories are a mish-mash of blissfully snuggling my newborn and frantically dodging his flowing bodily fluids. It was a beautiful yet chaotic and stressful time, coupled with the obnoxiously loud ticking clock counting down to my return date. That clock reminds us all that the stress during maternity leave is, in fact, temporary (a welcome realization for some, and an overwhelming disappointment for others), but that doesn't necessarily make it easier in the moment.
The weeks spent at home after I gave birth also gave me plenty of opportunities to stew on the decisions my partner and I were making. It seemed like only minutes passed between the birth and the realization that my leave would soon come to an end. As days with our baby started to feel every-so-slightly more routine and regular, and as the end date of my leave crept closer and closer, I couldn’t help but feel like I should have more of this parenting thing under control. It's an unfortunate benchmark that many of us are faced with, and one that often inspires us to size up our current mothering skills, knowing there might not be another chance to spend as much uninterrupted time with our child (unless, of course, we make some major life and career changes, which often opens up a whole other set of stresses). I wish I could hug every single mom nearing the end of her leave (including the ones who can't wait to go back to work) because no matter how you cut it, it's a transition, and those are rarely easy. Here's a few of the things that were swimming around my head when I was in that boat: