Work was a holiday compared to maternity leave


The reality is often very different to how we idealise we will spend our time whilst on maternity leave.

I spent most of my pregnancy daydreaming about all the lovely activities and lunches that would fill my work free maternity leave days.  My sister was also pregnant at the time and we would constantly text each other about trendy new cafes that we could leisurely hang out in during our maternity leave. We planned a few holidays and even started a list of hobbies to take up in our ‘time off’. I was going to start baking bread and making my own pasta.  And the house would be so tidy because I wouldn’t be too tired from work to clean it up.  Maternity leave was going to be great.  A year to relax and try new things with a cute little person around to take pictures of and put on instagram.

And then I had a baby. And then I realised that work was the holiday.

Where are the long lunches and afternoon vinos in the sunshine?  Where is the the fresh bread and home cooked meals?  Why am I cleaning up the house five hundred and fifty times a day?  Why am I not fluent in French?

Babies require a lot more care than I realised.  They are constantly requiring food or milk or sleep or attention or or or or. So my day is structured around sleeping, and  bottles and solids, rather than pedicures and shopping and sipping on lattes at hipster cafes.

As for those hispster cafe’s?   I am searching for one that fits the pram, has a high chair, and is quieter than a nightclub…but even if I find one, it is unlikely that my son will happily sit for an hour admiring the architecture while I read the paper or bitch about the contestants on My Kitchen Rules with a friend.

Oh and that’s the other thing – television is now my lifeline.  What would I do without Karl and Lisa to help get me through the mornings?  Who will make me laugh if Ray Romano doesn’t air his domestic issues at 11am?   And how will I feel better about myself if I cant do better than all the contestants playing Family Fued at 6pm?  And don’t get me started on how essential The Block is to my life…

And the thought of travelling with my sister and her baby, and all the admin and paraphernalia that would come with that – I’m exhausted just thinking about it.

But on top of the television and crying and four loads of washing a day, I know how lucky I am to have this time with my son.  To stare at the leaves for half an hour discussing the shapes and colours and remind him that they are not for eating.  To marvel with him at the rhymes and rhythms of a storybook.  To smile at his friends in the paintings and laugh at the how funny the texture of the couch is (its actually a lovely couch with great fabric but for some reason he finds it hilarious).

So while maternity leave is not as I thought it would be, it is still bringing much joy and wonder to my life.  And more importantly than speaking French, it is reminding me to stop and look and smell the leaves.

Originally published on Show and Tell Online