After a restful 2 month maternity leave, restful both physically and mentally, I went back to work last week, back to my job as a Registered Nurse. I didn't make a big fuss about it: only a few tears were shed, no big announcement or fanfare. Going back to work is what I have to do, regardless of my instinctual need to stay home with my babies forever and ever. I put on my scrubs, packed up my breast pump, and felt as nervous as if it were my first day of school.
When making these difficult transitions in life, I've learned that it's all about perspective. Truthfully, leaving River at home and heading out to work is the last thing in the world I really want to do. In my dream scenario, I would get to stay home with him as long as I possibly could, spending each and every day caring for all three of my kids full time. But, that is not my reality. I am a working mom, always have been and most likely always will be. My family relies on me to provide and I do so with a humble and grateful heart. My perspective: I am thankful to have a job that I truly love, to feel excited for my day when I leave the house in the morning. I am grateful that I no longer have to leave my children at daycare. My husband is able to stay home with them and care for them in my absence. And most of all, I am grateful for the time that I DO have with them. I count the minutes until I am able to get home in the afternoon, to scoop them up when they come running outside to greet me, to have them follow me around the house like little ducks, telling me all about their days. I went back to work this week with a healthy and positive perspective on what I am doing because I know in my heart that what I am doing is right and good.
I gave my maternity leave 110% of my whole heart. We had days when we stayed in our pajamas all day, enjoyed visits from family and friends. We went out for pancakes, enjoyed long mornings on the front porch, and cooked big dinners almost every night. I held my baby boy every chance I got, taking naps with him in the middle of the day without ever caring what chores were waiting on me. I played dolls and read books and painted fingernails. And no temper tantrum or tear filled day could have made me want to be anywhere else. Because home was exactly where I was supposed to be during this time. With my family, giving all of myself. I enjoyed each and every day and will always remember these last two months as one of the happiest times of my whole life.
My job is extremely flexible and ideal for a mother with young children: I leave the house at 7 in the morning and get home around 1 in the afternoon. River only misses one feeding while I am gone, thankfully, because he currently hates taking his bottle. I always say that Shawn's accident happened for so many reasons, many that we are just now beginning to understand. Before the accident, Shawn's job required him to travel 6 months out of the year, causing him to miss birthdays, holidays, dance recitals, and more milestones than I care to count. But now, he is here, fully involved and present in our family's life together. Now, he is able to stay home with our kids while I work. Now, we are able to work together to give our kids a balanced home life. Of everything that came out of such a terrible experience, having him here is the most meaningful to me. And it is with that thankfulness that I am able to put my stethoscope around my neck and leave the house everyday.
Life is not always what we want it to be, friends. But it is always, always what we make of it. There is nothing I love more than being a mother and a wife and those roles will always come first in my life. But being a nurse: it comes in a close second. Seeing the joy on my patients' faces when I walked back into their homes this week: it was priceless. I cared for them with as much love and patience as I do my own family because that is what I have been called to do. And I hope that, someday, my children will look back and see that their mama gave this life everything she had. They will see that I made the most of each day, each experience, constantly learning and growing and evolving. I hope that someday they can appreciate how much I love to love them and that even when I wasn't right there with them, I was never far away.