My maternity leave is over and today is my first day back to work. As I’ve come to expect, I have mixed emotions. On the one hand, it will be nice to speak with people over the age of 5. There will be no arguments about who has more milk in their glass, which color cup they were thoughtlessly given, or small cat fights that break out over a toy. On the other hand, there will be no sweet snuggles with my rainbow, no breastfeeding, no hugs, no heart melting over the simplest coo, no kissing boo boos, or arguing over the merits of naptime.

I feel so blessed that I got to see my maternity leave through this time. When my son Leo passed away I was still on maternity leave, which sadly turned into bereavement leave. I came back to work a very changed and broken person. This time around, my daughter is still alive and while I’m feeling so blessed by that and by the fact that I have a wonderful job to come back to, I’m still sad to not spend each moment with her. I know just how short life is and I’ve seen just how quickly it can be taken from us.

One thing I’ve learned since watching my son pass away is to savor each moment, even when I’m refereeing a fight over an Ariel doll. It doesn’t mean I’m always pleasant (just ask my kids and husband!), but I do enjoy my life. I’ve come to accept that I need to make space to go to work each day, even when all I want to do is hug my babies and stay home to enjoy the chaos that is my household.

As I walk through my office today and see the smiling faces of my co-workers, I can’t help but wonder how many of them are suffering inside the way that I am. What does a bereaved parent look like anyway? Suffice it to say that they look just like you and me.

Moving onto the next phase, being a working mother; being a working bereaved mother, somehow feels like a milestone…I guess it’s one of those hidden milestones that we sometimes stumble upon.


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