I've had the time of my life over the last five months.
Wait. Stop the presses.
This girl? The one who couldn't wait to get back to work the last two maternity leaves?
She's not ready.
Not even a little.
The one who religiously read work emails, jumped on a few calls, made sure keep up with all things appropriation-procurement-sequestration-shutdown?
She hasn't been doing that.
The one who's Facebook "on this day" today showed her first day back from maternity leave with Robbie, delighting in to-do lists, and lunches, and meetings, and strategy calls.
She's feeling a little melancholy.
What a gift to get five full months of leave, to spend it not only with the baby, but having time for all the wants-to-do and need-to-dos!
To not have to spend the 90 minutes of hell in the evening and 60 minutes in the morning when everything is on rush and go and not have the time to enjoy the little time I get with the kids.
To not have to stress about teacher work day-snow-day-hurricane-day-sick-kid-wake-up-who-is-going-to-miss-work-am-I-going-to-lose-my-job.
I didn't have a chance to tell you how nervous I was to join Monday morning coffee with the stay-at-home Moms (and Dads) at Robbie's school.
How nervous I was that I wouldn't be able to hang or relate.
Or how I met the most lovely group of friends who have changed my perspective on where you find community.
I didn't tell you how I dug in gardens (I don't garden), how I baked cookies (I don't bake), how I hosted and planned and delighted (I do some of those things)
I probably didn't tell you that I actually against all my planning to formula feed 100% from the start, breastfed for a full four months, and the day J quit way before I was ready I spent three weeks and all my google skills trying to make it happen again.
I didn't tell you how I was concerned every time someone said "you look great today", realizing that they hadn't seen me without yoga (ps, we call pajamas pants yoga pants to feel better about wearing them in public) pants on for the last 10 days.
I didn't have a chance to tell you how often I've been able to say "yes". To run for a PTA office. To make a meal for a sick church member. To visit with a lonely friend.
I didn't tell you how I delighted when my day became so full of those want-to-dos instead of had-to-dos.
I didn't tell you about the beautiful fall day strolls through forests, and museums, and hiking paths, and the conversations had.
I didn't tell you how I became the defacto snack-Mom after school pickup, and always made sure I had enough for the whole playground after school.
And I didn't tell you that I looked forward to that 4pm crowd every day. To see new parent and grandparent friends, to get to know my older son again for an hour of just us time.
I didn't tell you that I know not to shop Harris Teeter on Wednesday mornings because that's when their specials swap and they aren't all posted. Or that the mile walk to the Giant is just right on a lovely day.
I didn't tell you about the people who fed my soul, who affirmed me and made me feel like I was exactly where I was supposed to be.
I didn't tell you that I now know all the kids in Robbie's school by name. Most of the parents too. I can even tell you what costume 90% wore for Halloween this year.
I didn't tell you how my heart swelled that day when my friend said, after a lunch that may have involved a beer or two, that she admired how I treated all the kids like they were my own. A, that was the real deal.
And how that made me hope and feel like the best of my Mom was coming through in me as a Mom.
I didn't tell you about how I had time to write so many of the emails I wanted to write. To check in on the friends who I wanted to check on. To be present. Not just for my kids, our family, but for our little DC community.
I hope to always be able to know what Robbie is saying when he says "Remember that day when we went the places with the three white balls and the bucket?" (I totally do buddy).
And when Annie says "You had the balloons and you came to my party at school, and Zachary had the ninja turtle, and Izzy had the Elsa".
And that "I want an Anna" means I want two braids in my hair vs. "I want an Elsa" is one.
And I want to always get those secret smiles from James. The ones that are, without a doubt, for me. His main squeeze. Always.
So yes, I return to work tomorrow, this time with melancholy rather than Joy.
How I completely now understand that lump-in-the-throat-moment. How Moms cry at their desks on the first day back.
I hope I never miss those joyful moments because we are working so hard to afford to make them.
Maybe I do have a Mom gene after all.