Dear mom who’s going back to work after maternity leave


Dear mom who’s going back to work after maternity leave,

Congratulations, you’re going back!! You’re an independent woman who’s not letting any pipsqueak baby stop you from being a breadwinner. You must feel amazing! Wait, what? Are you crying?

Awwww, don’t cry. You’re gonna love being back at your job. I mean just think of all the crap you’ve been doing at home. Changing diapers, feeding your little poop machine, cleaning up spit up, saying ga-ga-goo-goo and never having an adult conversation. You don’t have to deal with any of that anymore!! Well, until you get home at the end of the day. And what do they say? Absence makes the heart grow fonder!!

Hmmm, that’s not what you’re thinking? You’re thinking it is literally impossible for you to grow ANY fonder of this amazing human being. You’re thinking how on earth are you going to be able to leave your new sweetie pie for an entire day? How are you going to focus on work and get anything done? And here’s my answer.

You’re not. It’s going to suck.

Sorry, I’m not gonna tell you to put on your rose-colored glasses and find the silver lining blah blah blah, bullshit bullshit bullshit. Going back to work after having a baby is hard. Ridiculously painfully hard. Like not only are you exhaussssted because you’re still feeding your little udder-sucker in the middle of the night and your body’s basically a pinball machine full of ricocheting hormones, but you’re also extremely attached to your baby. It’s crazy. The second they cut the umbilical cord, you actually start getting MORE attached.

But don’t worry, here’s the part where I tell you the good stuff about going back to work. This:



Yup, it’s blank. I mean technically there are few good things, cough cough, paycheck. But I remember the first week of going back to the office and there was nothing good about it. I would be sitting in the pumping room listening to the slurp slurp slurp of my breast pump while my eyes welled up with tears and I basically melted into a puddly mess. Or I would be sitting in a meeting and my coworkers would be chit-chatting about some TV show or a new song and I’d be like AGGGHHHHH, CAN WE START THIS F’ING MEETING ALREADY BECAUSE THIS IS SUCH A WASTE OF MY TIME WHEN I COULD BE  FINISHING EVERYTHING I HAVE TO DO SO I CAN GET HOME TO CUDDLE WITH MY CUTIE PIE FASTER?!!!

But here’s the thing. You’re going to make it. You will survive this. After a week (or ten), you’ll find yourself sitting in that conference room and joining in the conversation and you’ll think, wow, this is kinda nice. Or you’ll head out to lunch with some coworkers and the second the waiter puts the food down in front of you, someone won’t start screaming because they want to suck on your boob. Well, unless you work with some of the a-holes I used to work with.

Don’t get me wrong. There will be times that suck. Like when your daycare or nanny tells you that your baby took their first steps and you weren’t there to see it. Oh my gawwwwwwd, it will tear out your heart. But just know this. Their first steps look exactly the same as their fourth ones, and you’ll see those tonight. And every time you leave your little one in the morning, it might feel like you’re abandoning them, but you’re not. You’re teaching them things like independence and responsibility and that Mommy is doing important things in the world.

Just remember this. Millions of moms have done this, so you can too. But millions of moms have also cried their eyes out, so you can too. It’s going to be okay, AFTER it sucks for a while.


One of those millions of moms

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There are 9 comments for this article
  1. Sarah at 9:36 am

    Did you write this for me??? I go back in 3 weeks. Definitely not ready but it’s my 2nd baby so I know what to expect. It totally sucks. But money doesn’t suck. Thanks for reminding me that I’m not alone.

  2. Grace at 9:45 am

    OMG! That’s exactly how I felt both times I returned to work after maternity leave… it’s been four and a half years since the second time and I still can’t get used to it, hahaha!
    Sure there are some things that are nice, but I still feel like I miss out on so much it breaks my heart…

  3. Crystal at 10:26 am

    Wow! This brings back all those awful memories as if it were yesterday! But it’s 27 1/2 years. Yeah I’m one of those moms BEFORE The Family Leave Act. Back when you were literally at the mercy of how much vacation time and “maternity leave” you could accumulate in the months after discovering your were pregnant. And every hour you had to miss work for doctors’ appts was deducted from your leave time and you went to work with the flu and a 103 temp because you knew it was going to be taken out of your time after having the baby. Then the day comes and you discover you have to have a c-section! I had to return to work not even 4 weeks later. It was truly the loneliest time of my life. I can’t say that it ever got “better”; just that I got better at dealing with it. Mothers of all nature whether working out of the home or in home NEVER truly get the recognition they deserve and ONLY mothers truly understand!

  4. Julie Dawson at 10:27 am

    I made a pact with my babysitter to NOT tell me if my son did any “firsts” while he was there, and that if I came in next day and said “he took his first steps/cut his first tooth/etc” that she would feign utter shock and excitement for me – even if inside she was thinking “yeah lady, already saw that yesterday while you were at work.” But it worked. She kept her promise. And I got to see his “firsts” in my safe little world of momma denial. Yay for me. And for denial. Hahaha!

  5. Helen at 11:58 am

    In Canada we get a year for maternity leave. I know it’s a lot longer than what parents in the U.S. get for maternity leave. But I think it’s even harder to go back to work after being off for a year.

    When I adopted my son, I took a year of paid maternity leave and an extra 3 months unpaid because my son was 5 years old and I wanted to be there for him until he started grade one.

    It was extremely hard for me to get back into work mode when I was away for so long. It took me quite a long time to adjust.

  6. Lizzie at 12:08 pm

    I have five sons (yes I am nuts thanks for asking) but only had maternity leave with one. Became a SAHM when oldest was 10 months. Going back after he was born was HARD but I didn’t have a choice. Well, I did, but I would have faced charges if I didn’t. And, to make matters worse, his father left for Iraq the day before my first real work day back. Maternity leave ended at noon on Friday, my shop was released for the weekend just as I checked in. Hubby left Sunday.

  7. Tara at 2:36 pm

    I was lucky to be a care provider, so people brought their littles to ME when they went back to work. Do your best to find a caregiver (like the one mentioned above) who will actively work to help you not feel like a total loser of a mom because it totally, 100% feels like you’re abandoning your child to a total stranger. Fine someone who will take lots of pictures and share them with you. Someone who will give you updates throughout the day if you want them. (what did they eat? did they like it? did they have a runny diaper? did they totally b**t dance to some Barney song?) Or fill in a book of the day’s activities for you with that information. I worked hard with my parents to ensure that everyone went into their day feeling confident that everything would be okay. Because it will. And these caregivers DO exist. Hang tough Moms. It gets better.

  8. Claire at 2:19 am

    It’s not guaranteed every mother will feel like this. I headed back to work earlier than planned and had it been socially acceptable and childcare in place I would have been back even sooner. Being British it is assumed you will want to maximise time at home with the baby and most people take 9-12 months. I managed 5.5 months. I hated being home alone with the baby and had post-natal depression. Going back to work was at least as important as the Prozac.

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