A mother turns back to wave to her son as she leaves for work


I Couldn’t Wait To Go Back To Work After Having My Baby

May 22, 2017

Nobody was more surprised than me when I ended my maternity leave three months before my year was up and went back to work when my son was nine months old.

We all have ideas of the kind of parent we are going to be long before we have kids. We might look at our own parents and think of how we will be different, and how we won’t make the same mistakes. I know I did.

One of my biggest plans was to spend time with my future children. I planned to be with them as much as I could, perhaps even working only part-time until they were in school. I didn’t want my kids growing up like I did, with a mother who was both working and taking classes throughout my childhood.

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Even when I was pregnant, these were mostly my plans. Circumstances meant working part-time wasn't an option, but I had a career that provided the best work-life balance I'd ever had. It was going to be good.

But then came my maternity leave, and then five long weeks later, came the baby.

While I’m sure many parents go through a stage where they question their ability to be parents, I began wondering if I could last a year at home with my son. Instead of sorrowfully counting down the days until I had to return to work, I began to flirt with the idea of going back before my year was up.

I realize that not being the stay-at-home mom I thought I might be doesn’t make me a bad mom.

I wasn’t sure if was making the right decision for myself and my son, or if it was just the postpartum hormones talking. I talked to my husband first who said he would support whatever I decided. Next, I did a pulse check with the Facebook baby group I was in with women who'd had babies the same month I had my son.

The reaction was mixed. Some were Americans who were in awe of my one-year maternity leave and who thought I would be out of my mind to go back early. Interestingly, many moms from countries with generous maternity leaves, like Canada, said there was no harm going back if I was truly ready.

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So, just after my son turned four months old, I reached out to my employer about returning early. I filled out the paperwork and picked a start date, deciding not to rush into anything just in case it was the hormones talking.

It has now been more than six months since I returned to work, and I realize that not being the stay-at-home mom I thought I might be doesn’t make me a bad mom.

What really matters is that I love my son and I know he loves me. In fact, I think having some space apart helps me miss him and truly appreciate the time we do have together. The truth is that my work is an important part of what makes me a whole person — and that, in turn, makes me a better mother.

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Article Author Sarah Foster
Sarah Foster

Sarah Foster is a first time mom who lives in a small town on the shores of Lake Huron with her husband. She is an avid sports fan, was a journalist in a past life and likes to read in her spare time. You can find her at @fostersarah on Twitter.

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