Goodbye, Second Maternity Leave :: Returning to Work in a Post-Quarantine World

I know so many people, especially those with school-aged children, have been eager for a return to “normalcy,” whatever that may look like these days. I craved normalcy, too. I just thought I would enjoy being back in a “normal” routine more than I have so far. Maybe my anxiety will eventually decrease enough that my day-to-day life will start to feel more natural.

Who am I kidding? My anxiety hasn’t decreased once in my 38 years. Fat chance it’ll start now, mid-pandemic. Nice thought though, Jo.

Real talk, y’all. Going back to work after quarantine has been exponentially harder on me than ending my actual maternity leave ever was.

Maybe it’s because I got laid off during quarantine and the job I’m going back to — a job I was fortunate enough to land after less than a month of being unemployed during a pandemic — is vastly different than what I did for the past ten years.

Maybe it’s because leaving my walking, talking 1-year-old toddler is nothing like leaving the easy, sleepy infant he was before the world stood still.

Maybe it’s because my husband is a teacher and his school hasn’t started back in person yet, so when I head out the door in the morning, I leave my two favorite people in the entire world to spend the day together without me.

Maybe it’s because I worry that when I leave the house each day, I’m potentially bringing back something that could jeopardize the health of the people I come home to. That the anxiety I had over braving quick trips to grocery pickup seem to pale in comparison to what I’m afraid I’m around now that I’m out of the house for nearly 10 hours each day.

Maybe it’s because the world constantly feels like it’s on the verge of collapse and I desperately miss the bubble we lived in for five months. The bubble that allowed my husband and I to be there to witness so many of our son’s firsts together. The bubble that gave us the time and space to grow as a family, to establish new routines and hobbies.

Maybe it’s because being thrust back into a 9:00 to 5:00 world after the comfort and ease of working remotely for so long feels like an actual shock to my system. That adjusting to being at a desk after being a road warrior for a decade feels surprisingly a lot like being back in grade school.

Maybe it’s because I was blessed to have experienced some of the happiest times of my whole life during quarantine. I was a first-time mom with a full-time job relishing being able to spend the second half of my son’s first year with him. I didn’t have the pressure of homeschooling to contend with and, until my lay-off in late June, didn’t have much issue with work.

Maybe it’s because I just truly treasure all that time the three of us got to spend together. Yes, our son is in a very high physical needs stage of life and there were definitely times we felt we’d reached new levels of exhaustion. But, overall, we both just adored being with him so much, to be able to see him change and grow before our eyes, watching him take in the world around him.

And maybe, just maybe, it’s because I’m mourning the end of this chapter that brought me so much joy in the midst of fear and uncertainty.

And I haven’t even brought the baby back to daycare yet.

working mom

Joey Yearous
Joey is a New Orleans native, Dominican alum, and LSU grad who joined the ranks of motherhood in the summer of 2019. She and her Colorado born-and-raised husband, Phil, left their Mid-City apartment for a house on the Northshore about ten days before they welcomed their son, Sam, into the world. Though she’s always had a passion for writing, it’s her work as the Director of Marketing for a Louisiana-based electrical firm that pays the bills. She’s a longtime member of the dance troupe The Muff-A-Lottas and when she isn’t covered in glitter and dancing through the streets of New Orleans, she’s usually cooking, trying new restaurants, and listening to true crime podcasts. A consummate Pinterest fanatic, she’s always looking for her next DIY project or recipe to try. She believes good senses of humor and random acts of kindness make the world go ‘round.

2 COMMENTS

  1. I’m right there with you…just set my work schedule for September and October, and hubby will be spending the days at home teleworking with baby. It’s been such a scary time to be a new mom, but also a real gift. I never thought we would have the opportunity to spend the first 3 months of her life at home together. It’s amazing to be able to yell “honey come look! She’s about to smile” at any time of day and he’s able to share those moments.

    • It really has been a gift. Going back to work is such an adjustment, but hold onto to that gratitude for that closeness on your work days and you will be great, mama! Plus, there’s NOTHING like coming home for those baby snuggles after a long day!

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