So it is finally done, the last day of my maternity leave with Little Z. Technically it was a week-or-so ago, but in practical terms it was yesterday as from next week Little Z is at nursery with her big sis. I’m quite shocked that we’re already here – the time seems to have flown. I didn’t treat the day as special in any way; we did normal things to our normal schedule, albeit for the last time. From now on, days at home with Little Z will also be with her sister – brilliant fun but a different dynamic.
I relished our post breakfast playtime. Then Little Z had a really long nap after the four hours of settle time at the nursery over the previous two days took their toll. (It’s going to hit her hard next week – eek!), Whilst I was making lunch, she was munching bran flakes, her new favourite snack, in her high chair. We were listening to random Katy Perry tracks and she was waving her hands in the air to the beat with a little smile on her face. I made huevos rancheros with a random medley of vegetables and it was that very act that got me starting to feel emotional because Little H is less tolerant of my experimental food being in that ‘fussier’ pre-schooler phase. Little Z though, well she’ll try everything I put in front of her.
It’s always the small things which cause a breath to catch in my throat, reminding me the times that have passed. Having read about the Brazilian characteristic of saudade has helped me manage these feelings over the last few weeks. But however much I face into them and accept feelings of melancholy and nostalgia, the fact remains that I am finished with maternity leave. My one-on-one time with Little Z is over and, in almost complete certainty, done with maternity leave for my entire life. It’s such a strange time; a mix of happiness, loneliness, overwhelm, fatigure, exhaustion, obligation and freedom. And yes, I know many of those things contradict each other. But this time more than my first maternity leave I am loved almost every single day. Not because I didn’t enjoy being with Little H but because after 3 years of motherhood, I found my flow with Little Z and I became a much more relaxed mother. I hope I can carry this forward.
We’re in the best place for taking our next step though. As a result of some administration ‘mishaps’ at my work, I am actually going back to work doing a 1-day week, a 1-day week and a 2-day before then starting my full 3-day week routine. I have been slowly moving mandatory chores into times where I wouldn’t be working so it’s not a massive shock when I suddenly lose my 3 days of nap times to get the house in order. And most importantly, Little Z had successful settle sessions at nursery; sure, as mentioned above, full time will be a shock for her and I’m sure she’ll have some upsets, but we are still starting from a positive place.
So, farewell maternity leave. You’ve been such a delight and privilege. You’ve been 12 months of my life that I definitely won’t forget (although a lot of it is a blurry haze of tiredness and endless washing). You’re 12 months of my life that I will never, ever regret. And both experiences have taught me about the important things in life and given me an efficiency, motivation and perspective for the better in all aspects of my life.
Right, now back to my pile of folding…