Remember when I had this baby almost 7 months ago and then 4 weeks and one day later went right back to work?
Crazy, I know. I blame it on the Oxycotton. And what can I say? I had a responsibility, a job to get back to, and anyone who has ever been to school knows, those first few weeks are pretty crucial in establishing student-teacher relationships.
Back to the maternity leave. In short, I never took one. Didn't want to "waste" my sick and personal days and at the time it seemed like a fantastic idea. Every month I have either a vacation or three day weekend to look forward to, so that really helped. Well, the start of 2011 brought with it a whole slew of challenges, mostly me trying to do too much. And I didn't realize it until I started to unravel over the last two weeks, which quickly led to me sitting in the principal's office, completely broken down.
She calmly handed me some tissues, listened to what I had to say, and asked me what she could do to help. I was sad, frustrated, and (dare I say?) a bit depressed. I was trying to do way too much and had a hard time coming to terms with the fact that I couldn't do it all. When she suggested a week off (using my precious few sick days, of course), it was like a light bulb appeared out of nowhere. I would take a week off work, re-evaluate my life and figure some stuff out, then come back refreshed and ready to go. I was already brainstorming what my lesson plans would say before I walked out the door.
So this week has been... well, in a word, heaven. Pre-baby, I thought I would go out of my mind staying at home (since I did that for a whole 4 months post-graduation and went just about stir crazy!) but this week has been a real eye-opener. I am much more relaxed, my house(hold) and sanity are all the better for it and I (feel like I) have seen Mr. D more often this week than I have the last six months!
I'm sure my co-worker and mentor is just cringing reading this right now. :) No worries, Sari, I will happily be back to work on Tuesday, and am fully planning on keeping my job so long as we live here. I am happier than I have been in quite a while because in the quiet of the last few days I have realized a few things I want to share:
1) I have the best job ever. There are not too many bosses who would voluntarily let their employees just take a week off without penalty because "family comes first." Teaching art comes naturally to me, lesson plans easily flow from my mind and I have excellent students. I have enviously awesome benefits that I know we will never have as good anywhere else. Lucky, lucky me. :) I only wish I had 32 hours in a day so that I could work 8 hours, then get to spend 24 hours at home. Or split myself into two?
2) I was trying to do it all on my own. *NOT recommended* There are somethings I would rather do myself (like cleaning bathrooms and the house) because I like it done a certain way, but there are other things (hello, laundry!) that I have finally delegated to Mr. D, which I should have done months ago. It's all about priorities, people.
3) Speaking of priorities, that leads me to talking about working out. I gave myself the (near) impossible ultimatum to workout for six weeks at 5am every weekday, without skipping a day, in order to get new running shoes and a BOB stroller I so desperately wanted and in reality actually needed. I am good about working out daily, but about once or twice a week, it is just too darn hard to wake up that early and I work out in the afternoon instead (which would start me over on my six weeks). What was I thinking?!
I must have been crazy. So we went ahead and bought the stroller (meaning I can go workout in the afternoon guilt-free, since I can bring along Baby D with me) and I am planning on getting new shoes tomorrow. I have worked SUPER hard to get the baby weight off and get myself back in shape and I really wasn't giving myself enough credit. Its good to reward yourself when you are doing a good job, especially when it encourages you to keep up the good work :)
4) I absolutely love my family like I never knew I could love. And that love will propel me to work as long as I need to to provide for my family until that blessed day when it is no longer necessary. I will continue to find time for myself (although with my BOB it can now be time with Baby D as well!) and really enjoy living in the moment. Why else would they call it the present?