When I returned to work after my 4 month maternity leave. Things were....difficult. Mornings sucked as I had to pry myself away from my children. I wasn't used to giving up my baby on a daily basis. Up to that point, he was almost always with me. He was my little buddy.
Once I got to work, my thoughts were consumed by them. Everything reminded me of them and the fact that I was not with them. It was hard to focus. I couldn't have pictures of Ryan in my office because they would bring me tears. I cried often. Random things would trigger my tears. I would sit in my office, let the tears fall down my face, and try so hard to will them to stop before anyone saw me.
Things were hard for at least a month. Then one day, they were better. The teary-eyed moments stopped. I would finish a whole day of work and suddenly realize that I hadn't thought about the kids that day.
It amazed me how quickly I got into the routine of dropping off the kids and going to work. This is especially amazing to me because for several weeks it seemed as if things would be hard forever. That crying at the office would be my life for the foreseeable future. That would suck, right?
I'm not saying it's easy to leave the kids in the morning. When I wake up, I only get about 20 minutes of awake time with the kids before I pile them in the car. That time is mostly spent getting dressed while listening to them talk and giggle with each other from across the room. Those first 20 minutes with the kids are so precious. I always hate to interrupt that time.
Somedays when I drop the kids off at my mom's house in the mornings, it would be very easy to let pity take over and to wallow in the fact that I don't get to be with my boys all day. It would be easy to let the pang of separation flourish. But on those days where it still feels hard to leave them and go to work, I make a conscious decision to not wallow. And usually, by the time I get to the office, I'm too excited to tackle the challenges waiting for me on my desk to focus on feeling sad.
This is why, for me, it has become so important to have a challenging job in which I get to use my lawyer skills and education. When I leave my kids each morning, it helps to know that I'm using my time away from them wisely. That I'm doing something worthwhile. That I'm learning, and growing, and using my (horribly expensive) education.
But you know what else? Even though I'm not with them all day, I'm teaching my boys something very important. I'm teaching them that women can play many roles. Women can be loving mommies AND they can be bread winners. They can be lawyers. They can be professionals. They can be valued for their skills and intellect. They can be independent. They can be confident without all the negative connotations that usually follow. They can be nurturing at home and successful at work. Women can have babies. They can go to court. Sometimes one shortly after the other.
I hope when my boys grow up, they are unable to fathom that women, at one point in time, were limited by glass ceilings. I hope, when they go to their own jobs, that it never even crosses their mind to treat women differently than the way THEY wish to be treated in the workplace. I hope the only world they know is one where women hold positions of power and are respected for their capabilities. When they date and get married, I hope they operate under the assumption that their girlfriends and wives can do great things, both in and out of the home. And, I hope their default setting is to support their significant others in any path that they choose. I hope, they are imparted with the knowledge that women can be strong and smart and successful in anything they do.
I hope that by going to work every day, I teach them a little bit of all that. And just maybe, I'm also making things a little easier for the future women in their lives too.