A lot of people may think I’m nuts, but part of me was really excited to be going back to work. I enjoy the people I work with and the mental stimulation of my job. I was ready to have a reason to wear my nice shirts and do my hair in the morning.
I have now been back to work for 3 weeks, and it has been a bit of a whirlwind. Getting out the door, and into the office that first day was an accomplishment in itself. To say I was a little frazzled is an understatement. Trying to feed the baby when she refused the bottle (of all mornings to decide she'd be particular), make breakfast and remember everything I would need to pump at work, and make it into the office on time, I was going in circles. Obviously I was running behind schedule, but I did manage to scramble my way out the door, only to spill my smoothie all over the car and all over myself. Thankfully I was close to home so it was easy to turn around for a wardrobe change, but I had to wonder if it was some kind of sign that I shouldn’t be going back so soon.
After some mild cursing and questioning my sanity, I eventually made it to the office. Once I made it to work it felt like a weight had been lifted. At that point I realized that it didn’t matter if I actually accomplished anything with my work day, the goal for the first day back should be just to get there.
The first week was easy from a workload perspective, it was a lot of talking, a lot of questions, and basically just a chance to feel like a grown up. I went into week 2 with a bounce in my step, ready to dive back into the actual work and start getting things done. It was during my ambitious start to week 2 that I started to realize how much had changed in my short time off. I was no longer a crucial part of the team the way I had been before my maternity leave. I no longer knew how to stay one step ahead of the faculty members like I used to. It was incredibly discouraging to feel like ‘just the admin' and not an important part of the team like I was used to.
Needless to say my expectations going into week 3 were very different. I was going to simply do my job, and try to count it as a blessing that I was only being asked to do routine administrative tasks. If I wasn’t fully ingrained in what the faculty had going on, I could go home at the end of the day and just enjoy my time with my family. For the most part, week 3 was just that; I focused on the basic administrative tasks in had to complete and tried not to get too wrapped up in the fact that I felt left out.
Coming back to work, I expected it would take some time for us to find a rhythm and figure out what our routine looks like at home. I expected there would be lots of days where I walk into work only keeping my eyes open thanks to some caffeine. I expected to have a few days where I struggle to navigate tight deadlines at the office with the needs of the baby. What I didn’t expect is how long it would take to find my rhythm in the office. I didn’t expect my faculty to get used to life without me so quickly. I didn’t realize that as I was trying to find my new normal with a baby in my arms, they were also finding a new normal, one that didn't rely on me.
Although coming back to work hasn't gone as smoothly as I had hoped, I am still happy to be back. I am very happy to go out the door in the morning and feel like a piece of the old me still exists.