I was having a rough time anticipating my return to work. All I'd ever wanted to do was stay home with my kids. I'd had a plan. I would work until having kids, then stay home and raise my kids, do crafts with them every day, bake everything from scratch, and throw dinner parties. So far, it hadn't worked out that way. With each baby, I aimed to take my maternity leave and not come back. But each time, the money wasn't there. I was lucky to take the maternity leave at all, really. Paid maternity leave isn't required in the States, and I worked for a small business. I could take the leave, but it was on my dime. Each time, I'd return to work and tell myself that I'd quit soon. But, once I left for my maternity leave with my third, and last, baby, the money still wasn't there. We still needed both incomes. I still needed to work, and my dream of staying home with my kids was a distant reality. In the days before my return to work, I wrote a letter to myself. I asked myself, "What would I tell a friend if they were struggling with this, like I was?"
I know you are about to go back to work and your maternity leave is ending. I know this is breaking your heart, because you so desperately want to be home with your children, serving your family. I know that it's no fun going back to work.
I want you to remember that you don't have to stay home to bless your family. By going back to work, you can still be an overwhelming blessing. Your income blesses your husband as he transitions to a new career. You are taking pressure off of him to be the sole provider as he takes a different path. You are helping your whole family by easing the stress of making ends meet.
Going to work allows your children to grow in their relationships with other caregivers, namely, their grandparents. A relationship with grandparents is a beautiful, wonderful gift.
You are blessing yourself by doing work you enjoy. In turn, this blesses your home. You get a "break" from its stressors, and can enjoy your home well when you are there.
And while, of course, I hope you are soon able to stay home with your children, please know that you are not wasting away their childhoods at work. You are their mom and enrich their lives in so many ways.
Remember your list of "What Matters Most." Each of these things can be accomplished whether you work or stay home. When you are feeling discouraged because life looks different than you planned, remember what's important. Remember your list.
WHAT MATTERS MOST:
My children are loved.
My children are healthy.
My children are confident.
Our home is joyful.
We seek God.
We love others.
We are able to meet our basic needs.
We have quality time with each other and with those we love.
Good luck as you return to work. Don't be discouraged.
If life isn't happening how you planned, and "perfect" just doesn't seem to be working out, try it. Sit down and write the important outcomes you want. You may realize that they can still be achieved (maybe they're already true). Read it often and remind yourself that life can be exactly what you want, even when it doesn't turn out exactly how you'd hoped.