2017-10-22 / Family

Leave may be over; but maternity’s just beginning

By MICHELLE COTE
Columnist

This weekend marks my last nestled at home with wee babes ‘round the clock, and all the joys and tears and fears, and the monumental gravitational family shifts that come with the territory of adding another ‘plus one.’

Everyone’s dynamic is changed. My husband and I became outnumbered, our little became a middle, our older became an oldest — more of a grammatical superlative change, but still a change nonetheless — and our four-legged pup once again cautiously, skeptically welcomed another little addition into our growing wolf pack.

Funny how six pounds of squirmy cuteness can shift an entire household’s tectonic plates.

There’s infinitely more laundry, immeasurably less sleeping.

But for better or for worse, it’s back to business as usual for me this week.

The ending of maternity leave is always a mixed bag. But there’s a bit of sweet wisdom I’ve figured out from having done this a couple times before.

It only gets better.

Certainly, the newborn phase and the initial bonding moments that come with it are priceless.

From the indescribably miraculous moment of birth to first coos and smiles, there’s never been anything like this.

Moments with newborns are precious.

But making memories as they grow is … fun.

I only have six years’ experience childrearing, but each year has been better than the last, with more memories acquired for the parental canon as my children have become more interactive, their imaginations more extraordinary, and minds more capable of actually making memories.

After mamas return to work, we have to keep telling ourselves this.

That it only gets better.

As much as the role of a stay-at-home mother is certainly no picnic — it’s an incredible sacrifice — the role of a working mother too has its set of challenges.

When my firstborn began hitting major milestones and firsts, I’d hear about them second.

I still remember sitting in my office perched over pages and deadlines, when I received a video clip from my sister of my baby’s first time crawling.

I was the one that wanted to crawl — under my desk and weep.

It’s a mixed bag.

But I’ve come to find that the beautiful truth in the ending of maternity leave is that memories made are only beginning, even if your time home during the day is ending.

There is so much to look forward to.

Right now, I’m looking forward to catching a few winks.

Seriously. If I were reading you this column out loud, I’d be slurring my words out of extreme sleep deprivation.

Returning to work won’t help me sleep, but I’ll be looking forward to the fun.

I’ll eagerly await introducing our third born to our fabulous family traditions when we are all home together, as he grows and becomes his own little responsive person.

My maternity with this littlest guy is just beginning; this I’ve learned from experience with my older dudes.

And I hope that soon, solid stretches of sleep for us all will be beginning, too.

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