I remember when I was on maternity leave with Little Miss, I felt very out of the loop with colleagues and friends. I was taking the standard 26 weeks maternity leave, which in itself is an incredibly short time. I would be back to work in, what now feels like, an instant. But for those five or six months with little contact from colleagues, I felt very isolated from work and it was odd heading in on that first day back. There was a sense of unnerving questions despite being excited to get back into the fold. Was I missed? Have things changed much? Can I still cope with the workload? Now that I’m not going back at all, feeling out of the loop is an understatement. I feel kind of blurred, like a nomad, forced to find my own way and a new center. And being dependent on myself to provide that centre is even more daunting.
This post is a little bit of a meandering thought than anything else, so please bear with me!
Returning to work after a baby is terrifying for a multitude of reasons which you may remember me writing about here. Today’s post isn’t about how to settle back into work or a new routine, I’ve written that already, but besides that, a lot about returning to work is common sense. And even though I’m not leaving my babies to go to work, I’m working from home and that takes on a whole new level. New routines. New ways to jig the thoughts and projects in my head. New ways to give enough of myself to everyone in the house, including me. A new balancing act.
In some ways, I wish I was returning to work and for many it’s a given that they’ll go back as I did after A. In other ways, I wish I was like others who took the opportunity to run off on an extended career break fulfilling their dreams, working abroad in fitness down under with the kiddies. Now wouldn’t that be better than being a freelancer as the snow buckets down? And I know I’m not like others who decide to take extra time to write that book that has been spinning around their heads or are busy learning a new language.
But maternity leave is not holiday, as you may remember me talking about before. Even if I did watch Bones and Friends on repeat until I could quote the damn things. Last year I swore I would have the first draft of my book written by the time Little Bean was born so that over my maternity leave I could edit the life out of it and pitch it everywhere I could think of. It was a way to keep me focused. To keep the cobwebs away so they say. Well, that clearly didn’t go to plan! Pregnancy, birth, motherhood absolutely zaps me to the point of forgetting that I could have used that time better. I didn’t add a single word to that novel. And it’s far from my mind now.
Then again maternity leave doesn’t have to be productive. You’ve just spent nine months being very productive indeed! I’ve found though, that the isolation that maternity leave brings can leave you incredibly out of the loop with a job you dont want to lose contact with. Whether you stay in touch or not with colleagues, the work moves on and you’re not involved in projects that you wish you could be a part of. Despite modern tech keeping us all closer, it’s easy to lose touch. And that kind of stings a little.
Getting my P45 in the post a few weeks ago has been a massive jolt. Almost like the umbilical cord has been cut all over again. It officially says that I am no longer involved in the organisation I spent a decade with. As quick as that. It’s over.
Any loop that may have looped around me is now loose and I’ve been let free to drift on my own. Loopless. I’ve lost my network. Lost my tribe.
It’s time to find a new one.
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