Looking back on my maternity leave after giving birth to my son, I’m beyond thankful that I had an accommodating supervisor and super-considerate co-workers during this stressful time. To say it helped make a challenging time more workable would be an understatement. But even with that extra support, I could barely keep it together. And by “keep it together,” I mean I consistently ran late, constantly had to leave my desk to pump, and had to re-learn how to do the job I hadn’t done for months. As you can imagine, Employee of the Month wasn’t in the cards for me, at least not during those months of transition.
The challenges of those first weeks as a working mom are impossible to forget. I have vivid memories of sitting alone, pumping, in a spare room in my building thinking, “What am I doing?” and mentally re-assessing my priorities over and over again. (I don’t recommend doing this, it’s not really that helpful for your milk supply.)
And just so we're all on the same page, I'm not even saying that working as a mom is some Herculean task, or that moms who ~juggle it all~ are anomalies who deserve parades. Like, look, most humans are doing a lot in their lives, and we're all just doing our best to not f*ck any of it up too badly. What's hard about going back to work after maternity leave isn't the "being a working parent" part (although, undoubtedly there are challenges associated with that too) — it's the transition. It's the fact that things that were familiar are not dramatically changed. It's that the details of your life might look similar, but their context is entirely altered. And it feels weird. And it's hard to get used to.
If you, or someone you love, or even someone you only kind of care about but are always reminded of thanks to some weird Facebook setting that always puts them on the top of your feed, is going through this transition may I offer these simple words of encouragement: Hang in there. You can do this. You can more than do this, and it'll all get easier. I would even go as far as to send props, but I don’t think people do that anymore. Let’s just settle by saying moms who return to the workforce after maternity leave are badasses. And let’s all have a moment of silence for the things they’re likely dealing with.