Opinion Editorial

Returning to work after maternity leave is bittersweet: NICKI'S NOTEPAD column

By Nicki Cruickshank, Barrie Examiner

I t's good to be back. Bittersweet, but still good.

For those of you who were unaware, I was off for a full year on maternity leave after my beautiful daughter, Isabella, came into the world.

And seeing my all-day-everyday life with her come to an end last week was, honestly, a little heartbreaking.

I'm not sure about other first-time moms, but I was torn between feelings of joy for my child's arrival and sadness of putting my career on hold for a year.

It took me a month or so after having my daughter to get used to the fact that I didn't have to go to work every day.

She would be my career for the next 12 months and that blew my mind.

Although I was nervous as a new mom, I soon settled into my new role and the months seemed to fly by. I watched my little girl grow and change before my eyes.

Play dates, snuggles on the couch, grocery shopping trips and all the other outings together filled my days. So did the life of a housewife with cleaning, laundry and various other chores. A big change from writing stories for deadline, and being out in the community talking to grown-ups every day.

Then, before I knew it, my year with Isabella was up, and it was time to return to work.

On Feb. 1, I resumed my post at the Examiner, and it was exciting to sit down at my old desk and jump right back into writing.

But I had a little anxiety about being away from Bella all day, being a working mom and unsure if I could juggle both.

I know I'm not the first mother to feel this way after returning to the workplace following maternity leave. I'm sure a lot of mothers will be nodding when they read this, thinking back to when their children were small and having to leave them with someone else (even someone they trust) was devastating.

But, I believe it's going to be a healthy change for my family. My work gives me such purpose -- not that motherhood doesn't -- and the social time away from me is good for my child, I'm sure.

And, frankly, I think coming back to work as a mother will help me in my writing.

Before, when I was covering school events or tragic stories involving children, I couldn't totally relate to the families.

Having no children of my own, I could only imagine the pain of losing one, or how proud the parents were watching their children in a school play or doing well in school.

With my daughter in my life now, those child and family-related stories will hit home to me more and maybe make me a better writer.

She has enriched my life in so many other ways, that one can only assume the same will apply to my work life.

Actually, she already has impacted my work. Now, I have two deadlines to meet every day -- the one here and the daycare pick-up time.

Although it's been a bit challenging wrapping my head around the job again, I am glad to be back in the reporting ring.

Once a newsie, always a newsie.

Nicki Cruickshank is a general assignment reporter at the Barrie Examiner who is finding it hard to let go of her little one.

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