I can’t say that I was dreading going back to work per se, I wasn’t, but I was dreading not being with my Abigail every day. Those two things are not the same. I work in a supportive environment with and for people who are reasonable and compassionate (a rarity for law firms!) so I am unquestionably lucky.
In some ways it is invigorating to be back. It is refreshing to have some time to myself and it is nice to be drafting and thinking in a lawyerly capacity again. I always balk (inwardly) when people returning from maternity leave say ‘it’s nice to use your brain again’. It makes me think: what were you doing when you were looking after your child? Because I felt I was using my brain then, albeit in a different way. It’s strange that work now qualifies as ‘me time’ though – if that doesn’t show that everything in life is about perspective then nothing does!
I am lucky because Marc’s wonderful mum has Abigail two days a week. She adores Abigail and Abigail adores her. I can be totally calm when Abigail is with her Bubbie. I want Abigail to have a special bond with her grandparents and to love other people apart from us. I think that will help to make her a confident person. Abigail is in nursery two days a week – I am not sure she loves it yet but I hope she is gaining something from it which she doesn’t get at home. Fridays are my days with my girl and the thought of them fuels me during the week.
There will no doubt be ups and downs. This morning as I handed Abigail over she cried hysterically and clung onto me, and it broke my heart and made me cry. But other times I pick her up and spy on her for a moment before going in and I can see she is having fun and being stimulated.
There is no perfect solution, of course, but I am doing my best to find an acceptable balance. I have an hour with Abigail in the mornings and an hour in the evenings. That is more than many other working mums get and I know I am lucky.