Maternity leave was quite different with each of you. With Zac is was a wet and miserable winter (probably the last time it really rained in Cape Town) that had me feeling rather lonely and somewhat overwhelmed by the daunting responsibility of having my own little human to raise. With Sam it coincided with an extended visit from overseas family that brought constant companionship and support for us as we adjusted. With Bayley it has consisted, in part, of a nearly six-week school holiday with everyone (including Zac needing stitches and getting mumps, and Sam starting school), and has been somewhat overshadowed by our desperate attempts to save water in this the third year of a devastating drought.
Despite the fact that I returned to work at different times with all of you (ranging between 12 and 18 weeks), one thing about it is the same: it felt too soon.
I have felt no shame admitting to - and even posting about - being a working mom. I have said, and maintain, that I am not one who can be completely absorbed with and into my children all day. I'm not the stay-at-home-mom type, and actually am a better mother for the fact that I am able to be stimulated and productive somewhere else for part of my day. I have mastered the art of working smart, cramming hours of productivity into fewer hours of my day, so that I can experience the joy of undivided attention we can give each other when I get home. Still, tonight, it doesn't feel like enough.
Truthfully, I'm not sure it will ever feel like enough.
Something about the last few years has changed me, and I'm willing to bet it's you three. You've each chipped away at the standards that I have held myself to, and the expectations of success I have defined myself by, exposing layers of my identity that have revealed that being a mom is not just what I am; it's who I am. And there is a growing part of me that wishes I had more time to spend exclusively taking in each one's distinctive scent, venerating the uniqueness of your personalities, and holding you all close.
Chances are, there probably won't be tears (from me) tomorrow - not in public, anyway. Rightly or wrongly, I place far too much pride in my professionalism to have that happen. But my heart will ache with each goodbye, and break a bit as I part with you, Bayley, for the first time.
It will take some getting used to for me, once again, but I'm hopeful. Because of all the titles I could have, being a good mom - your mom - is, by far, my most precious.
I love you so, my Zac-a-roo, Sammy-Spoon and sweet Bayley-Bug x