Dark nights of the soul, I’ve experienced a few. And since becoming a mother, a few choice nights of weeping into my pillow loom large in my mind. Like the night after my first day back at work after my first maternity leave. I’ll never forget the bluish light of the hallway that lit Jeff’s face when he came to find out why I was crying into my pillow. I shooed him away, knowing that I had to just face the sadness, fear, grief, and relief on my own.
And I did.
But man, it sure would have been nice if we as a society had a few rituals around sending a mom back to work after a maternity leave. Hell, I’da settled for a few phone calls or emails saying, “good luck.” It’s an invisible milestone that most of us don’t acknowledge, but it’s a big ass deal to step back into work after having a baby.
The fine folks at What To Expect When You’re Expecting just published my latest piece on this topic. (See here.) And while I doubt I’ll ever have another maternity leave, I think back to that night often and think of women who have to push themselves out the door every morning, some for the first time ever since becoming a mom. I fist pump them as they crawl out of the cocoon of maternity leave and strike out with their leaky breasts and clunky breast pumps. If you’re one of those women, please know that it gets easier, and then some days it’s harder, and then easier again. But it’s never easy like it used to be when it was just you, but that was sort of the point of having kids, right?