On the night before I go back to work, I am filled with dread. I've been here before. I should have expected this incredibly heavy heart. I had to do this with your big sister, only she and I didn't get a full three months together. Nope. The short-term disability and all the money saved from not taking any vacation/sick days while I was pregnant with her ran out after 10 weeks, so it was back to work for me. You and I should feel "lucky" we got a full three months. Isn't that crazy? That we live in a society where we should feel lucky and acknowledge what a privilege it was that we even got three months? Or that we should feel lucky and acknowledge what a privilege it is that your dad gets three months paid paternity leave? And it is a privilege. It really is.
On this night before I go back to work, while I'm filled with dread and sadness, I can't help but feel a little twinge of excitement. Please don't misunderstand me, my sweet girl; I will think about you every single second I am gone, but I am looking forward to using the parts of my brain that I use in my job as a high school counselor. I miss the conversations and laughter and community I've worked hard to build with my colleagues and students at work. It means a lot to me that I have them as a support system. I need that support system as I set forth to juggle the life of being a full-time working mother of two.
On the night before I go back to work, I will remember to listen to your Aunt Jackie's voice, reminding me that the work I do is good work and the example I set as a goal-driven woman sets me up as a positive role model for you and your sister. And I promise to try really hard not to give a snarky answer to anyone who comments on and/or questions my life choices regarding being a working parent. I gave snarky answers when folks questioned me after going back to work when I had your sister, and you know what? It didn't actually make me feel better. It made me feel like an a**.
So, on this night before I go back to work, above everything else and all the other emotions, I will acknowledge that what I'm feeling the most -- more than the dread and the sadness and the exhaustion and the fear and the anxiety -- is love. I'm feeling all the love.