Returning to work is hard
It doesn’t mean you don’t care. Despite what the world seems to be telling you, you do love your sons very much.
Returning to work is hard, it was hard last time and it will be hard again, but you will all survive. Yes, it was physically, mentally and emotionally tough, for all of you: the never-ending pumping, the bad nights followed by full days at work, but you got through it and you all still love each other. Taking shared parental leave gave the most amazing opportunity for father and son time, and it will again, it doesn’t negate your connection, that link is always there.
The well-meant comments, or are they snide remarks, will hurt you more than those individuals will ever know, but they will also never know what your relationship with your boys is actually like. More time on maternity leave does not mean more love for your child, it is not that simplistic an equation. Strangers and colleagues will feel the need to inform you that they, or their wives, took a full year off ‘it would have been too heart-breaking to have left them earlier’, they can’t comprehend it. It doesn’t necessarily mean they think you are void of emotion, and if they do it’s not a worthwhile opinion.
There will be tough days, and nights, for you, for everyone. But you will get through it and the cuddles, smiles, hilarity and fun will not disappear. You will always be their Mummy.
For now, stop worrying that you only have a few weeks left of leave: it’s not the end of your relationship. Cuddle your sleeping, milk drunk, son; listen to his snuffles and giggles; watch your crazy toddler dance. It will be these memories which will carry you through the day until you get home.
It doesn’t mean you don’t care.