Maternity Leave (or my one year vacation)

When I told people from work I was pregnant, a senior manager joked “so you’re going on vacation for a year?” We both laughed and I feigned indignation. A vacation? Seriously?

The debate about the appropriateness of these comments aside, we both knew (I hope) that it wasn’t going to be a vacation. However, I certainly wasn’t prepared for how unlike a vacation it would be. What’s the opposite of a vacation? Oh right, work.

In every getting-to-know-you icebreaker game I’ve played, I describe myself using words such as ‘ambitious,’ ‘hard working,’ and ‘go getter.’ I was certain I would own my maternity leave. A year off? I would write my GMAT and apply for my MBA. I would start my own business (a kid friendly after work/school cafe called Suds and Sippy Cups). I would get my PMP to increase my credibility at work.

While it has only been three months, I have lowered my expectations significantly. This week I will shower more than twice. We will make it to our play group on time (okay, within twenty minutes of on time is a win). I will cook dinner instead of living off granola bars.

At times even these goals seem unachievable.

Caring for a baby is amazing, but it’s hard. Gone are the days where I could set my own schedule (which is particularly difficult as I am a project manager by trade). I want to watch Game of Thrones? My daughter has other ideas. She wants me to carry her around while making airplane noises. I want to watch my PVR of Game of Thrones (I’m smart!)? My daughter wants to eat for the third time in as many hours.

I read blogs about caring for a twelve week old and they mostly say the same thing: you adapt to your baby’s schedule. This means sometimes cancelling plans with friends and rearranging entire parts of my day. It means that I’ve stood for hours holding my daughter in an awkward facing-out-sideways position because it’s the only one that’s comfortable for her. It means I’ve eaten half a bagel all day when I was lucky to get her down for a nap. That I’ve spent entire nights taking turns with my husband rocking her to sleep and entire days singing the same song because it seems to be the only thing that soothes her (Kookaboura sits in the old gum tree…).

And it means that I haven’t done my GMAT, my PMP, or started my own business*. And you know what? I’m okay with it. I would still describe myself as ‘ambitious,’ ‘hard working,’ and ‘go getter’ but the definitions of these words has expanded to encompass my greatest challenge yet.

*don’t steal Suds and Sippy Cups. It could still happen!