Going back to work after maternity leave feels like being released into the wild—only way more awkward. See how one woman, who writes under the nom de plume Hilariously Infertile, survived the experience.
After being on maternity leave from my teaching job for 12 months, going back feels like I'm trying to learn the ropes in a strange and unusual world. Simple things like social cues and common manners have been lost while playing on the play mat with my baby and my dog. Knowing that we're all in the same boat trying to stay afloat is always helpful—so here's a handy list of some of the issues you may face as you head back to civilization.
1. Getting dressed in the morning will become a whole new multi-sensory experience.
No longer is it about finding an outfit that looked nice. It is finding the one with the least amount of bodily fluids on it. After maternity leave I had to sniff the shoulder of all my clothes for signs of spit up. I would manipulate the fabric into the light at certain angles to check for the shine of boogers glistening on black cotton sweaters.
2. You'll still speak "baby."
My fourth grade students will tell you that on numerous occasions I have called their attention by saying the words, "Look at Mommy." Instead of, "Boys and girls, eyes here." Or "May I have you attention?" Nope! "Look at Mommy!" We all stop for a laugh, but in my head I wonder if my brain is really still at home with my girls, like my heart is.
3. You have to relearn to keep your bodily functions to yourself.
You mean I can't just lift one butt cheek and fart in public? Wait, since when is burping out loud inappropriate? These things seem confusing to me. Aren't I supposed to announce that I need to poop, or when I come out of the bathroom that I just did poop to my co-workers? No? At home bowel movements are a daily conversation, isn't that how everyone is? No? Weird.
4. You'll learn that sleep beats out vanity. Always.
Before having children I would blow out my hair every day. After having children I made a serious decision in my life, one that I fretted over for three weeks and finally committed to fully. My decision was—I choose sleep. After the first three weeks of being back at work I realized that I put my hair up by 10 a.m. every day, so why was I waking up 20 minutes earlier to blow out?
From that moment on I chose to sleep in 20 extra minutes every day, blow dry the front of my hair and pull it into a bun every single day of work. Choosing sleep was the best working mom decision I ever made.
One day when I got a blow dry the night before and it shockingly stayed overnight, I wore my hair down. My students lost their minds with excitement—even the boys. When I told them not to get too excited, tomorrow my hair will be back in the bun there was a resounding, "awwwwww," throughout the room. No way little ones—I choose sleep.
5. You may develop Y.P.S.A. (Yoga Pant Separation Anxiety).
Yeah, it's a real thing. In addition to checking my clothes daily for signs of spit up, I also had to get used to life without elastic waisted pants. Oh, I can't wear those, they have a zipper and buttons, I would think to myself every day. My yoga pant separation anxiety became so overwhelming that when I was invited to my first book club my first question for the host wasn't, "What book is it?" It was, "Can I wear yoga pants?"
6. You may forget who's boss.
I'm the boss at home. I'm the boss of my kids. Am I not the boss at work? Wait, I actually have a boss that I need to listen to? This is a cosmic shift from home to work.
7. Snacks will become your best friend.
Running back and forth between work and daycare and home is hectic. Finding that small bag of Cheese-Its at 3 p.m. when you skipped lunch to finish your work is a working mom's touchdown.
8. You won't be able to stop talking about your children.
Doesn't everyone want to hear about my children? My children's funny things, my children's dumb things, my children's bowel movements, my children's this and that?
Hilariously Infertile is a school teacher who underwent IUIs and IVF to conceive her children. She wrote a book about her experiences and blogs anonymously on the website Hilariously Infertile.