Maternity leave is over, now what?


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Crystal Paterson

17 months I was home, the first 5 months before he was born I was alone and couldn’t wait to go back to work. The 12 months, being home WITH my son, I didn’t want to leave. Waking up with a vague idea of what the day would be, small routines, but nothing major. Having no place to be or reason to do anything but snuggle with my baby, it was the best 12 months ever and I didn’t want it to end. I thought maternity leave is over, now what? Now I’m dropping him off at daycare – granted it’s only 2 days a week and I’m lucky for the opportunities that allow me to be home the rest of the week.

I am writing this almost a year late, but as I thought about just skipping this topic I figured that no matter what there might be a mom who needs to hear my story, hear about my mom guilt, my lack of desire to go back, because it just might be exactly what they are going through and if you are that mom I hope this helps you in exactly the way you need it to. 

When I started looking around for jobs in my field – I have a degree in biological sciences, I came up empty. I wanted to stay home with my son and just work my small business(es?). However, that wasn’t financially attainable. Small sacrifices now for a greater reward later – or so my husband keeps reminding me. So I stopped searching for something in my field and started looking for something that worked out in my favor, something I’d enjoy and wouldn’t mind being away from Malachi. A great part-time job that paid for daycare and the bills. Well, we all know that is near impossible, with the cost of daycare, sometimes it doesn’t make sense to work just to pay for daycare. This might look different for some because your career or job you were working before is expecting you back. That wasn’t it in my case.

After feeling crappy about it for weeks, praying and waiting, which is hard. I went into work with my husband one day to work on some volunteer preschool stuff for Sundays in kids church and God answered our prayers. There was a Family and Community Outreach Liaison position that opened up at the daycare that is in our Church. Family and Community are somethings that are super close to my heart. This was perfect. It was part time, in the same building as my husband and the best job for our circumstances. Yet, I still didn’t want to. I was afraid I’d miss it. All of it, all of Malachi’s firsts, those precious moments that I wouldn’t get anymore. Plus he has separation anxiety, and I do too – you can read how were dealing with that HERE. So daycare drop offs, not the greatest. I always feel guilty leaving him crying and screaming, so much so that I can hear him as I walk down the hallway to the doors. 

It breaks my heart, and that twinge of mom guilt from leaving him with strangers for 8 hours a day, twice a week, hits hard at every drop off. But we’re adjusting, going back to work wasn’t what I wanted, but God placed me in a job where I got to do something close to my heart, but also be at home with my little guy more often than not. I can say from my experience going back to work was hard. There were tears shed, not just Malachi’s, but in the end, it was what was best. 

He has a blast at daycare every day. Playing outside, socializing, making crafts and art. He learns so much every day he’s there and the teachers love him obviously haha. He cries right up until I close the door now, then he is right in there playing and learning. It’s really turned into a good thing for him as well. Mom guilt is real, and no matter what we will feel guilty, we are our biggest critics.

You got this!

Now you might be there, maternity leave is over, now what? If you’re struggling with going back to work, whether you want to or not, just know you’re not alone. We all handle it differently, maybe it was easy to go back to work and you feel guilty about that. Don’t. I know it’s easier said than done. Being at home can be a lonely thing, and going back to work might just be exactly what you need and you don’t have to feel a little bit guilty for that. Maybe you’re going back because financially you have to, and that is alright too. You are doing what you need to do to provide for your family. There’s nothing to feel guilty about there either. Going back to work after maternity leave shouldn’t be this daunting thing. Talk about it, think about it, pray about it; and in the end, it’ll work out how God intended it to, and our little ones will be just fine.

With love, Crystal

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