Today marks the beginning of the last week of my maternity leave. 13 months ago this day felt like a distant reality. Something I didn’t need to worry about. Future Me’s problem. But here it is in full force and I can’t help but feel all the feels. Sad, overwhelmed, dumbfounded (where did the time go?) and most of all, a strong need to cater to Lucas’ every whim before our days are drastically shortened. I guess they call that mom guilt. This is the first time I’ve truly felt it to this level.
As I was just rocking Lucas to sleep for his morning nap, listening to the same Spotify naptime playlist we’ve listened to since his birth, he sent me some clear signals that he didn’t want to be rocked, and would prefer to just be left alone in his crib. It kind of broke me. I want so badly to breath him in, and to stretch these moments out. To let him sleep sweetly and peacefully in my arms as I rock him and stare down at his innocent little face. But his protest is a solid reminder that he’s grown, and that I’ve done a pretty damn good job at helping him feel independent and confident, at least enough to put himself to sleep.
“I want so badly to breath him in, and to stretch these moments out”
The last 13 months have completely changed me. I brought life into the world and into my home, and I navigated the often rocky terrain of motherhood with as much strength as I could muster. I questioned myself, challenged myself, and impressed myself daily. I was hard on myself, but I also gave myself many much needed pats on the back. It wasn’t always easy, but somehow also felt like second nature.
There were sleepless nights, the dreaded phase when newborns become nocturnal, and mix up their days and nights. There was sickness, exhaustion, frustration, and helplessness. But there were more frequently moments of sheer joy, love, laughter, learning and seeing the world for the first time through someone else’s eyes.
And now I leave him in the care of my husband (thankfully) for the next 6 months before we have to enter the daycare system. That is my one saving grace, the one thing that helps me feel ok with leaving for 9 hours a day. I know I will probably shed more than a few tears over this week, and into the next. Chances are a coworker or two will catch me crying in the bathroom next Tuesday. I know it will get easier. I know its what’s best for my family. I know he’s in good hands. But I’m also a bit selfish when it comes to my son. I love spending the whole day with him. I love watching him grow so intimately. I love telling his dad about the new thing he did today, or the new thing he learned. Now I will be on the other side of that, and it’s such a strange place to be.
13 months feels like forever, but it also went by insanely fast. Motherhood is filled with so many emotions, and next week I will do my best to keep the worst ones at bay. Especially the guilt.
Photos by Michelle Lina Photography