Miscellany

Maternity leave isn’t a holiday. But…..

watermarked - out my kitchen window

I’ve been on maternity leave twice.  And both times, I experienced people who thought that my being on maternity leave was basically me having a holiday.  Sometimes it wasn’t said so blatantly as that.  Sometimes it was.

And this used to really get my goat.  Because being on maternity leave, or a stay-at-home parent for any length of time, is no holiday, as anyone who has done it will know.  Being at home with babies/small children is not a walk in the park, although you will often find yourself doing just that because sometimes it’s the only remedy for an unsettled child and a frazzled mother.  Looking after these little dependants is hard.  It’s monotonous, and isolating, and relentless, and I don’t know of any other job that can leave you as mentally, physically and emotionally annihilated all at once.  Anyone who claims that a mother on maternity leave is having a holiday, is a fool.

Now I am back at work, and work is tiring as well, but it’s not the same kind of tiring.  It’s tiring because my eyes are staring at a computer screen all day, under fluorescent lighting.  It’s tiring because the processes to get anything done involve a seemingly never-ending obstacle course of hoops and jumps.  It’s tiring because there’s a need to be strategic in everything you do, right down to the smallest email, it all requires thought and analysis.  But these issues go away at the end of the day, they’re only issues for as long as they’re right in front of me.  It’s tiring, but without the investment.

The parenting issues that make you tired, they don’t go away at the end of the day.  There is no end of the day!  And there are no quick solutions, it’s simply a state of being that you have to accept you will be in for the foreseeable future.  And that’s just the parenting piece of the pie, there’s all the other life stuff as well that needs to keep ticking over.  Housework.  Finances.  Appointments.  Relationships.  Obligations.  When you put all of this together, you have the full job description of “mother”.

Having now painted a bleak picture of the early days at home with baby, funnily enough, my last year of maternity leave was probably the best year of my life.  My first round of maternity leave?  No, not so much.  But this second round….I had the knowledge and appreciation that comes with having already had one child.  I had been relying on that to see me through, hoping that my previous child-rearing experience would be the key to ensuring that this time, it wouldn’t be as brutal.  And luckily for me, that was exactly the outcome.

Being able to side-step all the confusion, the unknowing, the shock to the system, and the lack of confidence that the first time brings, last year I was able to focus on what this time meant for myself, my baby, and my family as a whole.  I knew how fleeting a baby’s first year is, and I knew what was important.  Of course, there were moments.  Moments when I thought I would go mad, when I wanted to run away and leave it all behind for someone else to deal with.  But I had known those moments would come, and I was better able to deal with them when they did.  And I was also able to say to myself with certainty – “this too shall pass”.  It always passed, and when it did, I could once again focus on the little things that matter, on taking in every second and trying to hold it in my memory, on leaving all that mental debris behind so I could just watch.  Watch my little ones as they played, as they ate the food I prepared for them, as they looked at the world with curiosity and enthusiasm.  All the time, while I was juggling the ongoing demands of a household of four, I made sure to do so with mindfulness and integrity.  And I tried to pay more attention to my own mind and body, understanding what I needed at any given time, and providing it without guilt.

I was on maternity leave.  The busyness never stopped, and I worked harder than I think I ever have in my life.  It most certainly was no holiday.  But it fed my soul, and I never felt so content.

Linking up with The Weekend Rewind with Maxabella Loves and co., and the Weekly Wrap Up at Melting Moments

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21 thoughts on “Maternity leave isn’t a holiday. But…..

    • I applaud you if you didn’t have mat leave – how did you manage?! It’s interesting what we can adapt to, when we think there’s no way life can get any busier.

    • I was the same as Amy. As I had my own business, with my first bub, there was not even one day or maternity. Absolutely. Crazy. Times.

      Second bubba … I made sure I had 3 months away from my business. Gosh. I know it was hard and tiring … but compared to the first time? It was just bliss!!

      • Wow, that is incredible! Especially for the first time – how the?? I was very aware every day of how extremely privileged I was to be able to access a long period of mat leave – twice. To you two, and every other parent who has kept the home fires burning while looking after a newborn – R.E.S.P.E.C.T!

  1. Oh I hear you hun. I honestly think going to work is much less taxing than being home with a baby. We did a role swap with our third child and my hubby stayed home whilst I went back to work… I know I got the easier end of the stick for sure xx

    • It’s a common opinion amongst Mums I know! I would have loved to have swapped places with my hubby, just for a little while so he could see what it was like himself!

  2. It certainly is no walk in the park, but when I went on Maternity leave I never went back! The first time for 6 years, the second time will be 5 years by the time I return next year. Call me crazy, but it’s been the most rewarding ‘holiday’ of my life. But then again I’m usually at home with 1-5 Children, when at work I’m in a classroom or playground of many.. So I think that’s probably why! Lol. Enjoy xx

    • I would have loved to have been able to stay at home with the kids for the time being – all power to you if you can make it work! You only get that time with them once!

  3. Definitely something I would never want to change but it was far from a holiday (which as you said many likened it to). Some days were so painfully slow it was torture. Others it was beautiful. But definitely not a holiday, for that I picture a deck chair with an umbrella on a deserted beach with a cocktail in hand x

  4. kazatmeltingmoments says:

    Goodness it’s exhausting to be a SAHM… I went back to work for a few days a week for a break! hehe. Thanks for sharing!

    • Yes totally! I hear so many Mums say the same thing! And for the adult conversation….and the coffee THAT YOU CAN DRINK WHILE IT’S HOT!

  5. Maternity leave has been my favourite time for sure. I love those moments of getting to know your new baby, taking him/her for first walks and enjoying the sunshine. Of course there are hard bits, but all of them are preferable to me than work!

    • I agree, even through the darkest of days with my firstborn, there were still moments of absolute bliss and wonder. It’s amazing…..and even though it can slay you some days, I also would choose it over work!

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