On going back to work: everything is different, but nothing has changed

Everything is different, but nothing has changed.

I have slipped back into my old role at work and squeezed back into my non-maternity nylons.

Conversations with colleagues seem to pick up right where they left off over a year ago, with the exception of the occasional “how is your daughter?” at which point I remind them, with a tight smile, that I had a little boy.

It is, of course, of no discredit to my colleagues, as their intentions are good and my family status is of little to no importance to them. I don’t expect them to genuinely care, and I certainly will not rely on them for warm fuzzies of the family nature. But one thing that slightly bothers me is that I no longer know exactly where I stand with them. I feel like a completely different person.

It is disconcerting to feel a little bit like an imposter in your own skin. Almost like in those FBI dramas where one of the agents is corrupt, everyone looks at them as the physical embodiment of lawfulness, when in truth they are something very different.

Don’t be alarmed, I’m not running from the law! But I am a professional woman who has all of a sudden had an extreme shift in allegiances.  I used to bend over backwards for my work, and an urgent email left unanswered on a Friday afternoon would literally render me sleepless over the weekend. I mistook myself for the strings that held the operation together and sometimes wondered “how would they survive?” without me whilst on mat leave. Of course, they were absolutely fine.

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Working from home: musical interlude anyone??

Now that I have returned to my role , I still work my buns off, but I certainly don’t lose sleep over it. The target of my devotion is undeniably, unquestionably, my family.

All of a sudden I understand why no one actually believed that I was returning from mat leave until they physically saw me in the flesh.  I suppose they have seen it before; Professional girl climbs the corporate ladder only to “throw away” career to be a SAHM.  I HATE that us mums face this stereotype. But even more so, I hate that I am an example of it.  I have continued to work (not brave enough to be a SAHM and also kinda need the cash!) but I am not the employee I used to be. Everything is different.

It is entirely possible that these changes are invisible to everyone else and it is just a feeling that I am having. That being said, I would be very surprised if thousands of other working mums out there didn’t hold the same secrets: that they are entirely different people to whom they used to be, and that they care far more about their children than their inbox. ♥

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