This photo popped up in my Facebook ‘memories’ this week. It was taken on the morning of Poppy’s first proper day at Little Unicorns Nursery two years ago. Amongst all the other ‘memories’ Facebook served up to tickle my sentimental streak this week, this one stood out. By a mile. It provoked a reality check. It made me face up to the very real prospect that my maternity leave with Milly is gradually coming to an end now too. It will soon be Milly sitting their with her backpack on.
My baby girl has a nursery place from November on the same two days as her big sister. And, more to the point, I’ve accepted some writing deadlines in October. The return to working motherhood really is looming now. And although the past eight months have definitely flown by a little too fast, I’m starting to feel ready for this change. Almost. I think…
I remember my feelings from the day this photo of Poppy was taken well. My stomach was slightly churned with the huge amounts of nervousness I felt about how both of us would cope with no longer being joined at the hip. But there were butterflies of excitement fluttering around inside me too. Firstly because I felt it was 100% the right thing for Poppy (it was, she loves nursery and has flourished with it). Secondly, because I felt it was 100% the right thing for me. It was time for me to start finding my feet in my new life as a working mum.
I know I’m going to feel these same emotions all over again when the time comes with Milly. But for now, I’m enjoying having a ball with my two girls and hoping the next month goes by in the slowest of slow motion so I can savour every second. It’s not only an absolute pleasure but an incomparable honour to have this dedicated mummy time with them both. That’s not to say it’s been all tea and cake (although there has been a lot of both). Life with two children under three is seriously hard work. Sleep deprivation never gets easier. Neither does teething. Chicken pox with a toddler and a newborn was not fun at all. Juggling a hectic newborn feeding schedule with a toddler requiring constant attention was certainly a challenging learning curve. And bedtime with two when Mr J is working away… well, thank goodness I can call in the cavalry for help (you’ve got to love grandparents). But for every low point, there’s a multitude of shared smiles and giggles between my girls that’s just the most heartwarming sight ever, a family hug/dance-off that sees us all erupt into the widest smiles and the opportunity to burst with pride witnessing so many ‘firsts’ for the girls as individuals and as sisters. And then there are simply those incredible moments when you realise, despite the sick on your shoulder, food scattered across the kitchen floor and toddler desperately negotiating something wholly inappropriate at your heels, you’re actually ‘winning’ at this parenting malarkey. And that feeling beats any job promotion by about a million times.
So before I throw myself into the challenges of being a working mummy again, I’m going to try to cherish each and every remaining day of maternity leave. I’m having the time of my life.