Yesterday was my first day back to work after almost three months being home with our three little girls. I took my maternity leave early due to complications and thus had to go back a tad early as well (just a few days before Jasmine turned 11 weeks). I tend to swing between two extreme pendalums internally- the one that says "You are doing this for your kids so they know that they can do ANYTHING they want when they grow up AND also be a mommy. You have more to give your kids because the time you have with them is quality time and not merely quantity" and then the other part of me says "Quit your job! You know you would be a better mom if you just stayed home. We could live in a cardboard box and be happy. You know if you really had a choice, you would be home all the time. What mom would CHOOSE to go to work."
I'm not sure what I was expecting but part of me half way imagined something like this- the girls all bawling in unison and me prying them off of me to head out the door. Feelings of guilt plaguing me all the way there only to get to the office and find I no longer remembered how to do my job. Will I remember how to collect audiometric data again? Or even know how to use my otoscope? These feelings had been building for the weeks leading up to my return and all I wanted was the gray cloud to part and an angel swoop down and tell me I could just stay home forever. And to be honest with myself...I can. I can stay home. I have a choice. Yes life would look differently but it is a choice nonetheless.
The morning was not the nightmare that I envisioned at all. It was smooth. It was uneventful and the girls and myself were all ready before 7am without a glitch or a meltdown from them or me (way earlier then the past few months). They were gracious and our snuggles were more sentamental but there was no work fairy who appeared like a grim reaper and snatched me from my girls. We said our goodbyes and Nevaeh in the most endearing tone explained to Ruby "It's OK. When you are a mommy you will have to go to work too. And thats OK because they will be your kids and you will always come back." while we all hugged. A part of me was crushed she was the one doing the explaining not to mention that she was telling our 3 year old that she would "HAVE to work" when she was a mommy. I try to explain that mommy helps people hear better- mommies and daddies and grandmas and grandpas. I tried to remember that explanation of why I do what I do but that morning there was no rational nor reason in my heart or mind. I simply got in the car and drove to work. And it did all come flooding back in an instant. Like riding a bike and not even thinking about where you are riding to. Or being too busy with patients to be able to think what my left or right hand was doing but somehow it came to me as natural as nurturing my newborn child. There were no big fireworks or tears...then.
I came home a little resentful that things had gone so smoothly. I packed up the youngest girls after work, headed home, played, and ate dinner, and then we were off to Nev's basketball game all as a fam. Maybe I half way wished that it was such a rough day that I could have said "SEE! I TOLD YOU SO!!!!!!! I'm never supposed to work again!!!!!!!!!!" I may or may not have created drama in my heart. It may or may not have built up until the point that when the kids were in bed I cried to my husband and said some things I didn't mean. I may or may not have hurt his heart because I was hurting with my own internal battle. My go to place when I am dealing with something is
Today was day #2 and I cried all the way to work. Because deep down in my heart I know I am doing the right thing but IF IT"S THE RIGHT THING WHY DOES IT FEEL SO BAD. And there are so many stay-at-home moms that would tell me that I am doing the wrong thing. That I should be at home. That I am missing out. To you I say- my family will always be my first priority. Always. And thank the Lord each day He promises to provide us with what we need even if it may not be what we want. That His grace is sufficient. I hope that I am brave enough to daily ask the scary question "What do you require of me today?" For today- for this season and for this time frame, this is what I am supposed to be doing. It is not the all or nothing that I make it out to be. It is not work OR be a mother. Right now for me it is doing both and as my six year old put it, it is OK.