Even if you love your job, it might be hard to imagine there's anything you could possibly miss when you're staying home and taking care of a sweet new baby. I mean, even dirty diapers have to be better than an inbox full of emails, right? Turns out, maybe not. I'm not saying you won't appreciate the time you get to spend at home with your newborn, or that you'll necessarily be itching to get back to the old grind, but you might be surprised by the things you'll miss about work when you go on maternity leave.
After 13 years in the classroom, I was ready for a freaking break, and by 39 weeks of pregnancy, maternity leave was looking pretty damn good. I was lucky because, although my contract only allowed for three days of paid leave following the birth of a child, I had accumulated enough sick leave over the years to get me through the end of the school year (my daughter was born in May). It was a pretty great situation all in all, and I was glad I didn't have to deal with textbook inventories, staff meetings, and report cards. However, in my exhausted postpartum haze, I did long for the routine of the workday and the people who filled it up.
It doesn't make me a bad mom, and if you find yourself pining for the following benefits of the workplace during maternity leave, you're not a bad mom either:
When you've sung "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star" for the thousandth time (and your baby still won't stop crying) or you've caught yourself calling their perfect toes "iddle widdle pinkies," you may yearn for those water cooler chats over the current political climate.
Ha, just kidding. I mean last night's episode of Dancing with the Stars.
A very lucky few women will be on paid maternity leave (enjoy, you magical unicorns!). The rest of us postpartum moms are left with the Family Medical Leave Act, which gives you 12 weeks of unpaid leave. Woo. Hoo. So yeah, for a lot of ladies, one of the biggest things you'll miss about work is bringing in that paycheck.
Not all of them, obviously. I was so grateful to escape from "Excessive Tuberose Fragrance" co-worker that I could hardly stand it, but my work wives were a different story. I missed noshing on doughnuts at our weekly grade level meetings, checking things off our "Ain't Nobody Got Time For That But Gonna Do It Anyway" list, and our good-natured ribbing.
The Drive To & From Work
It might sound silly, but once you have that precious little bundle of joy, you realize that your alone time is going to be fairly limited from now on. Suddenly that time you spent in rush hour traffic listening to whatever you want is starting to look pretty good. I always took the back way to get to work. My drive afforded me a beautiful view of the mountain at sunrise, and yes, I missed it.
Coffee breaks? New moms don't take coffee breaks. New moms take sips of lukewarm java throughout the day and hope nothing goes horribly wrong in the intervening three seconds. A 15-minute duty free interlude sounds like something out of a damn fairytale. Like most teachers, I always worked during my 30-minute planning period, but it was nice to know I could swing by the staff room and enjoy any treats the PTA had left for us.
New motherhood is like being in Vegas, but instead of being drunk you're chronically sleep-deprived. You walk out of the nursery (read: the casino), and are confused by the sunlight. What day is it? What year? When your baby doesn't know their nights from their days, that nine-to-five routine looks really appealing. And good luck explaining to babies about weekends.
I mean, I know you can read Click, Clack, Moo at multiple levels, but it's not the same as The Death and Life of the American School System. It's not that third grade content was particularly challenging (although I don't blame you if your kid's math homework gives you fits), but meeting the varying needs of my students and figuring out new ways to deliver that content and intervene when students didn't understand was a constant demand on my intellect, creativity, and teaching ability. With mom brain in full effect, I think I just really missed feeling like a "thinking" person.
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