My bubble

Starting back at work after a year-long maternity leave is tough.  I survived the first week and am trying to wrap my head around the fact that this life is my new normal.  One thing I’m starting to realize is that maternity leave was a bit like a bubble.

At the beginning of maternity leave, it feels like you’re living inside a brand new, tiny bubble.  The walls of the bubble are thick and there isn’t much room in there.  It’s ok, though, because you don’t need much room.  It’s just you and your new baby, really.  Sometimes dad or older siblings make their way in, but for the most part, it’s just mom and baby.

As time goes on, your bubble grows.  You start leaving the house again and seeing friends and family.  More people fit inside your bubble and the walls get a little less blurry.  But still, you’re separated from real life by a pretty thick film.

The bubble grows some more as your baby gets older and more independent.  You may actually get to leave the house without the baby (gasp!) and you start doing more activities.  You go out for coffee with other moms and babies.   At this point, you start to notice the rest of the world carrying on with work, commuting and all the other regular things that real people do.  Still, though, you aren’t really doing it yourself.

Then, no matter how prepared you are, that bubble suddenly bursts.  Your baby is separated from you, at daycare or with another caregiver.  You find yourself standing on a subway platform waiting for your train.  You’re wearing make up.  And nylons.  You shuffle along in a sea of other people on their way to work, like the march of the penguins.  And then, there you are, sitting at a desk with a huge, blinding computer screen in front of you and a bunch of fresh pens.  An IT guy hands you a blackberry that you can’t remember how to use and mumbles something about remote login.

It goes without saying that returning to work after having a baby is hard.  It’s a different, bigger, louder world than what I am used to.  Everyone has been saying, “in a couple of weeks, it will feel like you never left.”  They are probably right.  But for now, I miss my bubble.Photo 2014-07-04, 11 48 11 AM


It’s back to work for me tomorrow and the nerves are really starting to set in.

I’ve done everything I can do to get ready.  The freezer is stocked with meals.  The fridge and pantry are full of fresh food. My work friends have planned lunch for my first day, so I don’t need to worry about bringing something to eat.

Laundry is done.  I cleaned out my purse.  I packed a bag of shoes (for those who don’t live in a cold climate or take public transit, this is because I have to wear winter boots for my commute!)

Mom took me shopping for my birthday and bought me a new black suit, as well as a great dress.  Along with the few things I bought at the outlet mall in Florida, I’m feeling pretty good about my back-to-work wardrobe.  I tried on a few combinations so I know I can get through the first week without having to do much thinking about getting dressed.

I found a MAC gift card in my wallet (from who knows when?) and got myself a new lipstick.  My nails are painted.

So, that’s it.  There’s nothing more I can do.  Except worry, of course.  I worry about my boys.  Being away from them sucks.  I worry about having so little time together.  I hate knowing that our evenings are so short and that our time together will always feel rushed.  I worry about work.  I feel like I’ve lost some of my spark and I’m just not as sharp or quick on my feet as I used to be.  I worry that I’m not going to be able to keep up with the expectations that my new bosses will have.  I worry about not being able to keep the house organized.  Laundry, cleaning, cooking…

All of this, of course, is nothing new.  Moms go back to work after having children all the time.  I’ve done this before.  I know it will be hard and I also know that I will get through it.  I know that I will have moments where I suck at being a mom and I suck at doing my job.  But I also know that I need to go easy on myself at first because it will get easier.

Deep breaths.

A frantic finish (and some lovely lunches)

This is it. The final days of maternity leave. Now that Bo is doing full days of daycare, we are filling our days with shopping, cooking, organizing and purging. The realization that I’ll never have free time at home like this again (or at least in the foreseeable future) is making me a little panicky. 

One thing I really want to work on is being more prepared when it comes to meals. I already stocked thd freezer with dinners but I’ve always been terrible at taking my lunch to work. There are lots of places to buy my lunch where I work, but I know I don’t need to be spending so much money (or eating so many calories) so I’m aiming to bring my lunch at least a couple of days a week. 

In preparation for this morning’s cooking session, I threw five chicken breasts and some broth in the slow cooker overnight. When I woke up, it was ready to be shredded. After dropping the boys at daycare, I jumped right into making wraps to freeze for lunches. 

I found a recipe for bean and veggie burritos that I wanted to try and they turned out great. 

I also decided to make a few other variations including ingredients like the shredded chicken, refried beans, black beans, quinoa, corn, caramelized onions, cheese, salsa and sour cream. I made a few meat-free in case I felt like a change. 

Once I had filled and rolled all the wraps, I wrapped them in plastic wrap and then aluminum foil. I labeled some large freezer bags and packaged them up for our chest freezer. 

We tested out a couple for lunch today and they were delicious!  Now I have something I can grab and take to work for easy reheating at lunch time.  

Life is going to get a lot trickier in a few days but hopefully these little things will help make it a bit easier. 

Trying to relax 

In an attempt to make the most of my final week of maternity leave, mom and I spent today at the spa. It’s been a long time since I’ve had a massage and I actually had a spa gift card that my colleagues gave me at my work baby shower before Bo was born. I can’t believe I waited this long to use it!

We started with a quick dip in the hot tub followed by Swedish massages. Then we hit the steam room and had   another soak in the hot tub before stumbling into the dining room in our bathrobes for a three-course lunch. The food was excellent but we ate way too much. After lunch, mom went off for a reflexology massage and I got a facial. 

The whole day was quite lovely and it felt really nice to have a day to focus on myself. I needed the massage badly, but I have a feeling I’m going to suffer a bit tomorrow. My neck, shoulder and upper back were ridiculously tight and the massage therapist kind of beat the shit out of me. At times I wanted to scream (especially when I thought she was going to rip my head right off my body) but I know my poor muscles needed the work. All my tension and anxiety manifests itself in my left shoulder and sometimes it feels like I’ve got a solid rock in there. Of course,  nine months of pregnancy followed by a year of breastfeeding hasn’t helped. 

Now that my spa day is done, it’s back to prepping for next week. Tomorrow is my birthday (37, yikes!) so I’m hoping to get a bit of stuff done around the house while semi-taking-it-easy. We’ll see…

Overwhelmed and underprepared

In a week and a half, my maternity leave will end and I will be back at work.  It will mark the end of thirteen months at home, waiting for and then caring for my sweet baby boy.  

D is working day shift this week and Bo is doing progressively longer days at daycare in preparation for my return to work.  Littleman is back at daycare too, after our trip to Florida (and an injury that caused him to miss a few days of daycare upon our return).  This means I’ve had some time at home on my own.  

Sounds great, right?  Well, unfortunately, my anxiety means that I’m not able to sit and enjoy some of my final moments at home by myself.  I actually tried to watch a show from my pvr this morning, thinking it would be like the good old days when I’d have some down time.  But no such luck.  I could feel my shoulders getting tighter and my mind was racing with all that I should be doing.  There are so many things that I meant to get done before I go back to work and just not enough time (never enough time!) to do them all. 

Yesterday my mom came over and we cooked a bunch of meals for the freezer.  Soups, sauces, stews.  Today I baked some muffins to freeze.  With the current freezer stash, we should be able to make it through a few weeks of me working without having to stress too much about dinners.  I sorted through my make-up and tossed a bunch of old stuff.  I cleaned out my jewellery box and detangled necklaces and earrings.  I walked around the house in my new shoes in an attempt to get used to wearing heels again.  Tomorrow I’m getting my hair cut and next week my mom and I have a spa day planned (thank goodness because my shoulders really, really need a massage!)

This isn’t my first time going back to work after a year-long mat leave. I’ve done this before and I know that it sucks. It’s damn hard and it won’t get easier for a long time. I wish that I could stay home and take care of my family. I wish I didn’t need to stress about when the laundry will get done or how I will manage to make dinner or when I will get to spend time with my boys. But I don’t have a choice so I’m trying my hardest to prepare myself and our home for this big change. 

The flock is heading south

When I was a kid, I always pestered my parents to take us to Florida.  Growing up in Canada, vacations in the south were a treat.  My family was a skiing family, though, so our holidays were always spent in cold climates.  I would see my classmates return from Florida with golden tans and stories about Disney, and I’d be so jealous.

As an adult, I’ve taken many amazing tropical vacations.  I’ve been to Australia, the Cook Islands, Tahiti, Dominican Republic, Cuba, Mexico and Jamaica.  But one place I’ve still never been is Florida. And it turns out my husband is the only other Canadian who hasn’t been there.

So, when we were offered the opportunity to use our friends’ Florida condo for free, we jumped at the chance. What better way to end my maternity leave than escaping winter for a week of fun with my boys?

We’ve (sadly) decided to forego Disney this time around. The cost is something that we just couldn’t stomach after me not working for so long. Plus, Bo still needs his naps so we didn’t think we’d really get our money’s worth. It’s still something I really want to do in the future.

Instead, we’ll spend time on the beach and in the pool, or do some day trips. Of course, I will hit up the outlet mall, although I probably won’t be buying much given the value of the Canadian dollar these days. I will definitely visit Target, though, since we won’t be able to do that here anymore!

Mainly, I’m just excited for some time together as a family. Life has been so busy and I know it’s going to get even worse in the coming weeks. Oh, and I’m excited to get away from all this snow!

Last day

Today is the last day that Bo and I will spend at home together before he starts daycare. On Monday, we will begin a slow transition to daycare in advance of my return to work in March.

I have been lucky enough to have a whole year of maternity leave. At the end of each of my pregnancies, I remember thinking “a year. A whole year!” But then life happens and a year is gone in the blink of an eye.

I’m not ready. I’m not ready to leave this sweet, smiling boy. I’m not ready to see the inevitable tears as I leave him when he’s not expecting it. I’m not ready for daycare-itis, the never ending colds that he’s sure to pick up during his first year.

I know this is all just another part of growing up, of becoming a big kid. Before I know it, he’ll be waving goodbye and running off to play with his buddies. But I’m not ready yet.

Today we’ll spend the day getting ready for his big brother’s fourth birthday. We will nurse and cuddle and enjoy our day at home. On Monday, we will figure out our new normal. Til then…




Busy time of year

Somehow time is moving way too fast for me these days and I feel like I can’t do everything I want to do.  Somehow, it’s suddenly winter and there is snow swirling around outside right now.  Somehow, my baby is already 8.5 months old and the end of my maternity leave is approaching faster than I’d like.  I’m definitely starting to feel some anxiety these days and I know I need to find a way to work through it so that I can enjoy the little bit of time I have left at home with my little one.

But, for now, a bullet point update:

  • Bo has sprouted two more teeth (that’s four altogether now!).  He’s still drooling a ton and sticking everything in his mouth but, other than that, doesn’t seem terribly bothered by the whole teething business.
  • We went for a family photo shoot yesterday.  Just a quickie, to get some shots for Christmas gifts.  Littleton and Bo were very well-behaved and we got some pretty great pics of the two of them.  Gawd, they’re cute.
  • Getting ready for said photo shoot (and for just about every outing these days, for that matter), was a bit of a scramble.  Is it just me, or is it usually the mom the who is responsible for getting the kids the all dressed and packed up?  My husband is amazing and helpful in so many ways, but I’m always the one who gets the kids ready.  He only has to make himself look presentable.  I really noticed it today, when I only had a couple of minutes to pull myself together.  By the time I jumped in the car, I was sweating and realized I hadn’t finished applying my makeup.  The kids looked great, but mommy?  Not so much.
  • Poo.  Bo needs to have one.  He’s been pushing and straining and groaning for the last two days.  I finally cracked out the prune puree last night but so far, no luck.  Poor little guy.
  • There is so much snow this morning!  Why?!  I really thought I’d make it until at least Christmas before pushing the stroller became challenging.  I’m not ready for this at all.  For the first time since I got it, I haven’t hit 10,000 steps on my fitbit ANY DAY this week.  Good lord, that’s awful.  In the summer, I was getting close to 20,000 a lot of the days.  I hate being stuck inside.

That’s the main stuff for now.  Heading into the office for a visit and to meet my new boss today.  I’m sure that’s adding to my anxiety.  Visiting months ago was fun.  That was when my return to work was ages away.  Now, it feels too soon.  Ugh.

The stressful life of a mom on maternity leave

Sometimes I forget that my life is so good.  When that happens, I accidentally let the little stupid things build up into stressful events that are actually, in the grand scheme of things, no big deal.

This morning was the perfect example.

5:30am – D’s alarm goes off for work.  I wake up but stay in bed, feeling a bit stressed because I know online registration for Littleman’s swimming lessons starts at 6:30am today and I hope that my alarm will go off.

6:00am – Bo wakes up and wants to be fed.  Crap.  Shuffle to his room and feed him.  He falls asleep so I stumble back to bed, grabbing the laptop on the way.

6:15am – Lying in bed but getting nervous about swimming registration.  Although I’ve always succeeded in getting the classes we’ve wanted, I know it can be cutthroat.

6:29am – Sitting up in bed with the laptop.  I’m all logged in and the screen is on my “activity wish list”.  Am waiting for registration to go live.

6:30am – It doesn’t go live.  What?  Screen says “do not refresh”.

6:31am – Should I refresh??  The screen says no.  But I do.  SHIT.  Registration is open.  I try to enrol but the class we want for Littleman is full.  SHIT AGAIN!  I try a couple of other evening classes.  ALL FULL.  DAMMIT.  Get on the wait list but am 7th.  Shitballs.

6:33am – Call D in a panic.  WTF should we do?  Panic some more and enrol him in a different level for 3-5 year olds.

6:35am – All enrolled, but then read about the level I signed him up for and realize he’s totally not skilled enough.  Crap.

6:40am – Call D again.  Should we do a daytime class?  We could keep him home from daycare.  OK.  Let’s do that.

6:41am – Try to sign up.  Registration for the class I want doesn’t open until 7am.  Good lord.

6:45am – Littleman wakes up and comes stumbling in.

7:00am – Refresh, refresh.  It’s live!  And it’s FULL.  WTF?

7:01am – Find another daytime class on a day when I have my own exercise class.  Argh.  Book it anyways.  Email the organizers to cancel my earlier registration in the wrong level.

By this point I’m a hot mess.  I feel sick to my stomach.  Why?  This is not a big deal.  Yes, I want Littleman to take swimming lessons.  It’s important to us.  And evening classes would have worked better for us.  But, this is not the worst thing in the world.  We can handle this minor setback.

I take a deep breath and get breakfast for Littleman.  Bo is still asleep.  My brain is still swirling and I start thinking about Bo’s baptism, which is coming up on Sunday.  My mom is hosting afternoon tea following the ceremony.  The food is all under control.  But then I think…party favours for the kids!!  Eek, I should totally have party favours.

Bo and I drop Littleman and daycare and boot it over to the local bulk food store.  We have some cute little clear boxes, so I’ll fill them with candy.  Oh, but what candy to get???  Jelly beans.  I’ll get jelly beans.  Perfect.  But I get home and realize the black jelly beans make it look ugly.  So I pick them all out.  Party favour crisis averted.

It is not quite noon and I finally just sat down on the couch to have a good laugh at myself.  It is clear that I’ve been living with my crazy mom brain for too long… I have forgotten what real stress is!  I take some deep breaths and remind myself how lucky I am.  I have two happy healthy boys. They may have to take swimming lessons at an inconvenient time or eat jelly beans that aren’t the perfect colour.  Life could be worse.



Summer’s end

I love summer.  I always have.  It’s hands-down, my favourite time of year

I love the heat.  Going outside without having to think about whether or not you’re wearing enough layers.  Not even bringing a sweater with you.

And then there are the sounds.  That buzz from some insect that fills the air on those hot July days.  People mowing their lawns.

The smell of rain on hot concrete.

I know that summer isn’t officially over for another couple of weeks, but it makes me sad to think that fall will be here soon to remind us that summer’s evil stepsister, winter, is on her way.

I feel a bit guilty, though, because a teeny tiny part of me is a bit relieved that it’s September.

Don’t get me wrong, my summer was awesome.  Summer is my favourite time during maternity leave.  I love putting my baby in the stroller and heading out for walks.  I love sitting on patios with a coffee or gelato.  I love the fact that we got to spend lots of time at the farm this summer because I wasn’t working.

But I’ve also discovered that sometimes you can have too much of a good thing.

We spent the past week at the farm with my family.  My sister was there with her husband and six-month-old daughter.  My parents were there. D and Littleman and Bo and I were there.  That’s a lot of people and a lot of time together.  If you had asked me a year ago how my family would handle a week together like that, I would have told you that my sister and I would probably be butting heads by the end of the week.  I never would have thought that the people butting heads would be my mom and I.

But, wow, did we ever have a tough week.  My mom and I spend a lot of time together, so maybe that was the problem.  Maybe we had gone for too many walks, too much shopping, too many lunches and too many weekends at the farm this summer, that a whole week was just the breaking point for us.  It makes me sad because I love my mom and I love spending time with her.  I need her help and I appreciate that she’s willing to provide it.  I value the time we spend together.  So, that made it extra-hard when she would snap at me or barely speak to me throughout the week.  At one point, I seriously considered asking D to take me home, but I was really enjoying the time with my sister and didn’t want to miss out on that.

By the end of the week, things had settled down a bit with my mom and we were able to make it through the rest of our vacation.  But, by that point, Littleman was hitting the end of his rope with respect to being away from his normal routine.  We did tons of fun stuff with him throughout the week (swimming, campfire, s’mores, putting up a flagpole, painting a fence) but by the end of the week I started to notice that he was acting out whenever we weren’t doing something fun.  I knew it was time to get back to real life.

So, yes, I love summer.  I love it a lot.  But its final days kicked my ass.  I’m ready to get back to a regular routine where my kids go to bed a decent time, we eat less junk food and I see my parents for shorter stretches.  I’m ready.