Six short weeks ago, I detailed what was happening during my maternity leave. It’s hard to believe that it’s time to write about the end of it. The last four months have been an immense privilege — one that has come with lots of nap fights and many loads of spit up-doused laundry and a dairy intolerance and resulting lack of cheesy goodness, but this time has been a privilege, nonetheless.
As I sit in yet another top sporting baby puke on the shoulder, here’s what the last Friday of maternity leave looks like:
[sorting] through the closet. Oh hey, there’s that sweater that I got back from the dry cleaner last spring and then never wore again because I’d already outgrown it. And skirts with zippers! And pants with buttons! And decidedly non-sensible high heels! It’s time to trade in the wardrobe of stained race t-shirts and saggy jeans for cardigans and black pants. Which all soon enough will also have stains on the shoulder (spit up) and around the legs (toddler hands).
[dreading] taking Metro again. Things have only gotten worse for our terrible transit system since I’ve been on leave. I’ve been able to delete the many service alerts that have littered my Twitter feed and cluttered my email over the past few months, but next week, it’s just me and Metro and thousands of other cranky riders. Gee, I can’t wait. (Though maybe I’ll have a chance to give a pregnant lady my seat.)
[anticipating] a massage on Monday. My co-workers gave me a post-natal massage gift certificate before I went on leave, and there was no way that I was stepping back into the office without using it. I can’t wait to hear what the next massage therapist has to say about my back of steel.
[watching] Katie sleep. And play on her play mat. And smile at Teddy (she’s started saving her biggest smiles for him). And let’s be honest, a little bit of the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills and 90210 and the Parks and Rec finale on repeat. After all, I am still on maternity leave, people.
[remembering] all the gear I need to haul with Katie to daycare and with me to work every day. There should be daycare and/or pump sherpas. Or maybe those already exist in New York and could make their way south? Can I pay someone to make sure I don’t forget a critical piece of my pumping apparatus every day?
[ordering] a bunch of pictures to update my office door. Though I’ve procrastinated so long on this that I may have to start back with some hand-drawn stick figures.
[drinking] the last Yuengling from the Super Bowl run. Because it’s the last Friday of maternity leave and I made it through four months of having an infant and a toddler and next week at this time I’ll be on a very different kind of deadline.
[savoring] these last few sweet days before real life sets in again. And yet trying not to burden them with the need to be just right, as I’m prone to do (which then, of course, leads only to disappointment and frustration and tears).
[wiping] away tears. Apparently not overburdening these last days isn’t enough to stop the waterworks. Note to anyone approaching the end of maternity leave: don’t listen to the Elizabeth Mitchell station on Pandora, unless you really want to set off a crying jag. “You Are My Sunshine”? Excuse me while I go find another box of tissues.
[giving] thanks for the last four months. I love my work and I am actually looking forward to getting back to that part of myself, but I will never look back on the four months I’ve spent with Katie, or those that I spent with Teddy two years ago, with anything other than happy memories and tons of gratitude.