I understand this is a touchy topic, so please know doing what’s best for your family is all that matters. With that being said, I’ve spent the past four months home with my newest baby and her four siblings. It was the sweetest transition from spring to summer. Lots of unstructured days with no big plans. The sink was always full, along with the laundry baskets. But I had no pressure for the first time in forever because babies really don’t keep. I heard, “Watch dis mommy,” a thousand times. And I probably said, “Shhh you will wake the baby,” a thousand more. I cleaned sticky popsicle hands, sat in the sun as the kids rode bikes and jumped endlessly on the trampoline. There were lots of sleepless nights that come with a new baby. The older kids got to sleep in the playroom together all summer.
But like a storm looming in the horizon, I had a feeling that would creep in, an anxiousness to which I couldn’t put a name.
The kind of feeling that would leave my heart racing. It would hit every now and then when I looked into my baby’s big brown eyes or when the kids would crowd around me on the couch. It was a tugging in my heart. I go back to work this weekend and time truly has flown. I’m seasonal in an emergency department so I get summers off anyways. I was lucky enough to get maternity time along with my seasonal time. My friends have asked if I’m ready to go back to work and my response has always been, “No, I’m not ready yet.”
Staying home with the kids has not been all sunshine and rainbows. Some days the tantrums, sibling feuds, spills, and repetition of the everyday stuff wore me out. Some days I went to bed bone tired. Some days I cried right along with my two-year-old navigating his sensory processing disorder. Some days I question whether I’m cut out to be a mom of five. Some days I would sprint for the door as soon as my husband got home from work. Staying home is hard, working is hard, motherhood is hard. And sometimes we can let the guilt eat away at us if we let it. But both my husband and I working is just what has to work for our family. At the end of the day we’re all doing what is best for our families.
We are embarking on a new season with three kids in elementary school. I was picking one of my daughters up from preschool on the other side of town every off day. Now she’s in kindergarten with her two siblings! The three of them get to ride the bus together. I’m so glad I have been off to help them settle into a new routine with school and meet their teachers. I remember the conversation I had with my daughter the night before her first big day of kindergarten. She told me matter of factly that she wasn’t ready for school because she would miss me. I assured her that everything would be okay and that I would be thinking of her and missing her too.
Maybe I need to assure myself the same way. Last week I was going through all my work scrubs seeing what fit and I teared up. Things are going to be so different going back to 12-hour work shifts. The work days will be extremely busy in this season, which is to be expected in any emergency department. There will be days when I am pulled in a thousand different directions. There will be days where I doubt I’m cut out for the job. There will be days where time will fly by, others that seem to stand still. There will be days when I am torn from the sadness. There will be days filled with so many different emotions. There will be days where I leave bone tired. There will be days when I come home and find the deepest of gratitude just watching my kids sleeping peacefully, alive and breathing. The emergency department takes a huge village and I am so thankful to play a small part in it. It’s a lot like motherhood — all the emotions, the hard days, the good days, the unexpectedness, the busyness, pulling in many directions, and the village it needs.
So although I may not know what comes through those ER doors, I do know that I’m beyond grateful to have five little ones at home to miss and to love. My next door neighbor asked me yesterday if I was ready to go back to work this weekend. I smiled and told him, “Not yet.”