The Great Return

Well hello there 2015.

Yes, I realize I'm about 20 days behind on the whole "Happy New Year" wishes but hey- better late than never. Or maybe this is one of those "never" situations.  Either way, here we are.

In case you missed it, I was a hermit for the last month.

I spent time with my boys, had a wonderful whirlwind of a Christmas and then spent a week and a half enjoying the snow in Sun Valley.

I spent the last month soaking in as much of my boys as possible.

I memorized the way Carter's head smells (seriously though, what are those things made of because someone needs to bottle that scent) and the way that Hunter wrinkles his nose when he asks me to read just one more book. I've imprinted them on my heart and my mind.

I indulged in my last weeks of full-time mommy hood, because now I am back to work and I'll miss some of those moments.

If I'm being honest, I'm not 100% sure how I feel about it.

When I was younger I always thought I would be a stay at home mom when I had children. I hadn't even thought there would be another option until I found myself in a job that I loved and I couldn't fathom giving up.

When I headed out on maternity leave with Hunter I didn't know how I would feel once that little baby showed up, so Chris and I agreed that I would go back to work and that we could always reassess as time went on.

I couldn't have been more thrilled to get back to work after having Hunter. I had been waiting months for real human interaction and conversation.  I was eager to start back where I left off with projects and tackle new ones (partially to prove to everyone that I wasn't just a baby-making-5-month-off drain on our department).

I relished in grabbing lunch with my coworkers and being able to leave the restaurant without tipping 35% to make up for a certain small person who can trash a restaurant table faster than anyone I've ever seen.

When I got home each night, I loved the time I got to play with him and I loved our morning cuddle sessions, but I also loved ditching the yoga pants for high heels and feeling like I had somewhere to be each day.

I had the best of both worlds... 4 days a week of work, where I loved my job and 3 days of "weekend" with Hunter, Chris and Ketch to relax, play and enjoy.

Today, all of that is still true.  But there is more.

There is not just one baby I'm leaving at home, there are two. Two sets of sad eyes, telling me to have a good day and another set of cheeks I kiss before I close the door.

And even more than that, I am leaving behind Hunter- who is my tiniest best friend.  He is a walking, talking, cool dude who I genuinely want to hang out with. Don't get me wrong, Carter is an awesome baby, and I want to hang out with him too, but just like Hunter at that age, he doesn't really fulfill my "I need to talk to another person" void that I have in my life- but Hunter does.

Hunter told me on my first day back, "No go to work, play with me mommy"- consider my heart strings officially tugged.

Leaving them is just harder this time.

Maybe it's because I will miss the 15 minutes after Hunter wakes up from nap, where all he wants to do is crawl into my lap and tell me about his dreams (usually of ice cream and the Seahawks).

Or nap time when Carter falls asleep in my arms and I rest my eyes for a few minutes while I listen to his tiny baby snores.
Or maybe its because I know more of what I am going to miss; Carter rolling over for the first time or Hunter going on a hunt to find the peacocks at the zoo.  

For the last 4.5 months I've got to spend uninterrupted time with my boys and its been fabulous...and its also been really hard.

Being at home with two small kiddos is no joke.  There are days that feel like they stretch on for 36 hours and I'm running in last place as mother of the year. There are days where both kids are screaming and I can't make either one happy and all I want is Chris to come home immediately so I can pawn them off on him. 

But I've also got a rhythm going now.  We have play dates, preschool, Little gym and toddler play time. We fill our days with activities and errands and before I know it, most of the day has flown by.  And on those crazy days where I can't take the monotony of more poopy diapers, piles of endless laundry and crayon on the walls (that no one knows where it came from), I have a whole slew of mom-friends who I can call and we go to the park and let the kids run off their energy while we complain and laugh about the aforementioned monotony of it all.

Being a stay at home parent is a wonderful sort of chaos.  As my friend Sara said it, "Parenting is not for the faint of heart."  Amen sister. 

But parenting also has a strange amnesia quality to it.  Somehow even a very minimal amount of sleep wipes the slate clean and you find yourself considering sneaking into your toddler's twin size bed because you miss him and then you can snuggle with him before he wakes up- the same toddler who stuck his hand in his diaper and then alerted you to his poop-situation by wiping it on you and running away with his poop filled hand touching EVERY. SURFACE. IN. THE. HOUSE.

The night before I went back to work, I sat folding the endless laundry that plagues our house and picking up the toys that I would inevitably step on in the dark and out of nowhere I teared up. It wasn't full on ugly-crying or anything, but it finally hit me that my maternity leave had come to an end- it kind of snuck up on me.

I had been living in an imaginary world for the past 5 months where I never knew the date and could barely discern which day of the week it was- so my last night before work brought that blissful ignorance to a screeching halt.

In some ways I was sad to be back in the real world- but as we all know, the real world can only be avoided for so long.

In case I'm making it sound like I didn't want to go back to work, which really isn't the case either.  I make the choice to work- I couldn't ask for a better situation there and I'm well aware of how good I have it.

My schedule is completely flexible- so on those hellish nights when the kids are playing a game of who-can-sleep-the-least I can take it easy in the morning and roll in whenever I'm fully functional. 

Plus, I only work 4 days a week (10 hour days) so my Fridays are my special time with the boys. This has been the biggest blessing, because its never more than 4 days until I get a full day with them.

I would also be remiss not to mention my amazing team at work.  When I returned, they had decorated my desk with welcome back banners, balloons and ample "re-entry" snacks, which included a bottle of Champagne, Diet Coke and Swedish Fish among other bags of candy. They know me too well.

I love the familiarity of my desk- the same one I have sat at for the last 8.5 years, where I have grown my career and excelled much further than the 22 year old who took the job originally had ever though possible. In the first 48 hours I had already sat down to plan the course of 2015, kick off a HUGE project I worked all of 2014 to set in motion and had not one, but two, discussions about where my career is going and and what lies on the horizon.

There really is no problem to solve.  My quandary is that I have too much of a good thing; I love both my boys and my work.

It is the same plight that every working mother encounters every day.

There is no solution except that time will make it easier.  

When time puts some distance between me and the days of unlimited possibilities of maternity leave I'm sure it will be easier for me to head out the door every morning- but my heart won't ache any less to be with the boys every diaper-filled-second. Those little guys have captured my heart in a way that I can't even describe.

I'm going to keep putting on my high heels and heading to work, knowing that my boys are having the time of their lives with our new temporary nanny- my sister Chelsey.  As Hunter told me last night when I got home, "I have so much fun with Aunt Chelsey. Big fun, lots of big fun." They are loved and spoiled- which is all any parent can ask for their children.

So all of that was to say that I'm back at work. 

I love it but I hate being away from my boys.  

It's a conflict that won't be resolved any time soon, and thats ok.  It's more of a confession than anything else.

I'm giving myself permission to respond with the truth when people ask me how it's going.

It's hard and I'm conflicted.  

By saying that I miss my boys doesn't make me less good at my job or less willing to work by butt off, and by saying I love my job doesn't mean I care any less for my kids. 

So cheers to 2015.  It's a new year of endless possibilities and if life has taught me anything, it is that I have absolutely no idea what this year has in store.