I should be happy and grateful to have been able to spend eight months at home enjoying my baby boy. It’s a privilege in a country where you usually get a four-month maternity leave (yes, Switzerland is one of those countries – an opposite reality to Sweden, for those who mix them up).
I’m really lucky to have a job that I like and which gives me freedom: I work from home very often, holidays are great (and just around the corner, by the way) and I don’t have a boss constantly bossing me around or asking me to “go the extra mile” (as was the case most of the time in my previous job). It has challenges, as every job, but the advantages outweigh the disadvantages by far.
You’ll probably think: “So what is she whining about?”. You’re perfectly right: I have no reason to complain and yet I do, because what I feel isn’t rational and caught me off guard.
When Inés was a baby, I spent about the same time with her at home as I did with her brother, but going back to work was a totally different experience. I remember very well the first day I dropped her off at childcare because I left with a huge smile and drove to work listening to the radio out loud and singing with all my might.
At the risk of sounding bipolar, I actually went back to work more than happy after my first maternity leave. This time, though, it seems like resuming working life (the expression makes me laugh – as if staying at home with little children wasn’t work) is tearing me apart.
I suppose becoming a mother takes time. It’s either that or I’m too slow. There are women who’ve always wanted to have kids. They probably started preparing for motherhood from the moment their maternal instinct knocked on the door. In my case, maternal instinct did so very late – I even wonder if I had it before Inés was born –, it gradually took hold of me, discreetly, until I became not only a mother, but a devoted one. A mother who cherishes every moment she spends with her children as if she were enjoying her favourite meal, aware of the fleeting and cruel nature of time. A mum who’s afraid of going back to work and coming home one evening to see her kids have grown up without her having noticed
But let’s be clear: this isn’t me talking, but my hormones – at least, that’s what I want to believe – and I really hope they’ll give me a break soon (perhaps the day I’ll finally make up my mind about weaning Théo?).
On top of being a “devoted mother”, there’s the sadness (the grief) of knowing that this is my last child and that I won’t live the same experience again nor hold another baby of mine in my arms. I don’t want this beautiful time of my life to go by so quickly.
It’s obvious, dear readers, that everything I feel is perfectly normal and has been experienced by mothers all over the world since time immemorial. Many of you may have felt the same way and maybe some of you think writing about this is of no interest at all. But at the end of the day, we all play the leading role in our life and have the right to feel things as if nobody had felt them the same way before.
I’m sure that in a few weeks (or months, at worst), I’ll laugh thinking about this phase and will be happy to have recovered such an important role in my life: being a working woman who not only raises her children but does plenty of other things, including teaching (or attempting to teach). But until then, I’ll need to weather the storm as best I can and move forward.
Yes, I’m back at work.
PS: I want to thank a group of wonderful women whom I met by chance in a photography workshop. To be honest, I didn’t think we had much in common apart photography, but against all odds they’ve become an important part of my life and are supporting me through this period of change. Thank you, ladies, for being there and not judging me when I share my moods.