I recently read an article on Scary Mommy about one working woman’s perspective of what maternity leave is like. It’s hits the nail on the head so exactly, it’s…well… scary. I’m not going to rehash that blog (it’s good. Go read it.), but it got me thinking about my maternity leave. Don’t worry, this isn’t a thesis on why America needs better maternity leave. That’s for another post 🙂
The article talks about how woman on mat leave spend most of the time counting down the weeks and constantly planning for when they go back to work — and stressing about spending that quality time with baby. For me, since this is our third baby, I have learned how to bury some of those stresses (though they definitely exist), but what’s a struggle for me is Chris and I’s roles. Under “normal” circumstances we are a 50/50 partnership. Housework is split, finances are split, and parenting is split. That’s not to say it’s always 50/50. We pick up slack where needed. If I have a crazy work day, Chris steps up and vice versa. Our partnership works and it works well.
On maternity leave, I have this unspoken notion that I need to take on more of the non-career stuff since I am at home. I want to be clear — this is not the expectation. Truth be told, Chris is still splitting everything with me — and working. The problem is, that the responsibility of everything non-career is very awkward for me!
Meal planning — trying to plan 4-5 nights of dinner every week is exhausting. Not to mention the pre-planning involved in going to the grocery store. What I really want to do is write “order pizza” every night, but I’m trying to lose baby weight (Gluten-free pizza? No?). But, this chore is necessary. We don’t have extra time to just wing dinner. Vivian’s rigid 3-hour schedule during the day makes for small windows to get stuff done before I pick up the boys from school.
Cleaning and laundry — what the hell happened when we had Vivian??? All of a sudden my house is always dirty and the laundry is never ending! Maybe it’s because I’m meandering all over the house all day and not confined to my office, but I can’t walk through a room without picking something up. Who is making these messes? Tiny mess monsters? Don’t get me started on laundry. How did adding one baby all of a sudden triple our laundry?
Schedules — ok, if I’m being honest, this isn’t much different than when I am working. This is my task through and through. However, on maternity leave, this task is horribly complicated. It’s like I forgot how to do it the second I gave birth. We have a giant wipe off calendar that I inevitably leave something off of and I’m so rarely in front of a computer (read: blog backlog) to keep up with Outlook calendaring. Let’s be honest, the mobile world of calendaring has some improvements to make. (WHY WON’T MEETING REQUESTS JUST SHOW UP ON ALL CALENDARS?). So, I try and remember things (HA!) and an hour before something happens I’m frantically trying to get ready (How did I forget that doctor appointment!?).
I’m sure if I knew I was going to stay home permanently, I’d figure out better ways to handle these things, but this is the maternity leave limbo. I need the house functioning for all our sanity, but like the article said, I’m spending the next few weeks planning for my return to work. What a balance this is! Even after three kids, this mommying thing is so tough!