I received such lovely messages yesterday after my first day back at work, from which I shared a bit through story. That it was inspiring to see me back at work. Lise wrote the best DM, ‘You are a role model for lots of women! You can ‘do’ maternity leave in many ways – we are all different, and everyone should feel comfortable doing it their own way. It’s so nice to see that it can be done this way as well.’ Yes, yes, it’s a little bit indulgent to share words of praise directed at me, hehe. But it’s just such a nice note – pointing out that there are different ways of handling parental leave. And I am actually quite relieved that there was no judgment; ‘what’s she doing out of the house with an INFANT?!’ Nope. You just totally encouraged me!
I have a few friends who, like me, aren’t able to go on a ‘traditional’ (by Danish standards) 12-month maternity leave. They’ve often been warned by other friends, ‘You’ll regret this’ and ‘once the kids are there, you won’t want to go back to work.’
I was honestly a bit nervous about working with a tiny human being by my side. Before heading out, I felt a pang of envy directed at those women who are able to just drop their work and not think about it for a year while dedicating themselves 100 % to the maternity leave and the baby. It has got to be the bomb – being with your child constantly and undisturbed. And also getting a break from your job – when would you ever do that otherwise? The opportunity to stop and think about the life you’ve built for yourself – are you happy? Is there something else you’d be happier doing?
I was nervous whether I’d be able to concentrate. About both things – baby and work. Whether I’d even feel inspired. And on the practical side as well – how do you pair classic ‘blogger virtues’ and ‘independent tasks’ – outfit photos, accounting, etc – with a baby who may not want to sleep?
So far, my doubts have been in vain. It’s going so well. I’m still doing a few external assignments, like yesterday’s shoot with Nivea. And for the outfit photos, I put the baby in the stroller and meet Julie on my walk, while he’s asleep. In some ways, I do feel a bit silly; parking the stroller at an arm’s distance, outside the range of the camera lens, while strolling around playing fancy pants. On the other hand, it’s also wonderful doing things that are ‘the old me.’ And he’s sleeping anyway.
Actually, it generally feels quite leave-like, based on my own resting heart rate, time for friends and number of coffees. Most days, we have some pretty long mornings, where he and I are cuddling under the duvet. Then I’ll typically go for a walk, perhaps have a friend over for coffee, or meet a friend somewhere in town. When he sleeps in, I make sure to get some work done, and otherwise I’ll have some computer time when Adam gets home at night and can take over.
I mean, obviously, I’m looking forward to Adam taking leave so we can help each other out a bit more, and maybe I can allocate some more ‘efficient time’ for work (and also just to experience the two of them having more quality time and bonding). The other day, one of you asked if it’s really that bad with babies – do you really not even have time for showers? Yup. You do – on some days. However, washing my hair has become an evening thing for me, when Adam is keeping an eye on the baby. That may be the slightly stressing element about having a baby; you never know how much time you’ve got. Is it one of the long naps, allowing you to have lunch, sit down with your laptop and do laundry? Or, do you have to be on after twenty minutes again? Baby sleep is whimsical! In some periods, anyway (and he is still too young to have formed a real pattern). And sometimes it’s also better for you to just stare into space for the entire twenty minutes you get, even if it doesn’t allow you to shorten your to-do list. But that’s okay.
It was really lovely to be back on an assignment yesterday, and the shoot went so well. The fact that he slept all the way through was the most encouraging start to that sort of thing I could ever wish for, as it gave me hope and a desire to do more.
That’s the very best about being a mum and being his mum and being a full-time mum. It is possible to be a full-time mum and love your child full-time simultaneously with working a bit / taking a short maternity leave / combined parental leave, or however you wish to go about it. Like Lise wrote – there are so many ways of doing it.
I’m enjoying my way – even it isn’t the full 12 months. I’m enjoying business as usual as long as it’s at my pace – that’s the most important thing. Or, his pace, really. I have to be considerate and make time. And that’s the most wonderful thing about having the best job in the world, which I have – I generally get to decide the pace and the level of ambition.