the unexpected mama; my year on maternity leave

My Mat Leave Year

My Mat Leave Year, Photo by Malinka Photography

I didn’t know what to expect. 55 weeks ago I sat in my office, surrounded by half-packed boxes, staring at my computer. “How will I ever leave my job for a year?” I said to myself, and others, more than once. The mothers in the office would look at me slyly and shake their heads. “Just you wait,” they’d say, with a knowing expression. “You’ll be back before you know it.”

They were right, of course. My maternity leave is ending. I can’t believe what a whirlwind this past year has been.  It’s true what they say: “The days are long, but the weeks are short.” Over the past year, my one-year-old son Xavier and I both grew in more ways than I thought possible. It’s so hard to believe that he was once this 7 lbs, 10 ounce little ball that had been growing inside me for nine months, and now he is a babbling, teetering, opinionated, smiley, “social butterfly.” (His new daycare coined him as the butterfly). The first few months of night feedings, c-section recovery, learning how to be parents, trying to figure out his naps, and taking forty-five minutes to bundle Xavier up for an outside walk already seem like a blur. (Of course there are certain moments that stick out; for example, I’ll never forget the first time I made him smile. I couldn’t believe that I could have that impact on him, and that I could make him so happy and expressive.) Every chapter we have been through just seems like the next step that just makes sense. I have loved every phase more than the last.

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Photography by Lolabean Photos

We have had so much FUN this year, and I can truly say that. Every day after my husband Ian left the house, I would look at Xavier and say “Well, we have a busy day ahead, buddy!” We’d go to fitness classes, meet friends and coworkers also on maternity leave for coffee breaks, brunch and ice cream, we’d go to play groups and classes, head to the park, and we would go for long walks along the Danforth and Leslieville (he loves being outside). As Xavier got older, we went with friends to indoor play gyms and developmental play classes, and we’d visit the local splash pads and new restaurants in our neighborhood. Ian and I also took Xavier to a couple of music festivals on weekends, we ventured on a road trip to my sister’s wedding in Washington DC, and Xavier’s also been on two beach vacations to Jamaica and Mexico. (I remember being so nervous to fly with a baby!) Xavier loves to look around every new place he visits, listen for fire trucks, and play with anything involving wheels and/or water.

Photography By Lolabean Photos

Photography By Lolabean Photos

Of course it wasn’t all easy. Of course it was – and still is – hard. There were some days that were so challenging that I would call Ian at work and cry. I’d be at my wits’ end and he would tell me to take a deep breath, and kindly offer to come home early so I could have a break. (I’m thankful for Ian every day, but I felt doubly thankful for his support in those moments, as I know not everyone has support like that.) There was a phase when I couldn’t get Xavier to nap without going for a walk or a ride in the car and I was clocking 30,000 steps a day on my Fitbit. I was exhausted, despite Xavier sleeping at night. But we got through it, and transitioned into crib naps. There are so many challenges I could list, and there are always new challenges – both emotional and physical – that arise all the time. I went into motherhood being realistic that my life would change, but the truth is, no one can prepare you.

Photo by Malinka Photography

Photo by Malinka Photography

But we adapt. Our lives are enriched beyond belief. I can’t believe how full my heart is. I love our little wonder more and more every day. And every one of those challenges is worth it, 100 times over. Xavier is the best thing that has happened to Ian and me, and he makes us so happy.

Xavier was my little sidekick for a year. We went everywhere together and I know going back to work is going to be a difficult transition for the first bit, mentally. (I mean, I won’t have to make sure there is enough room for a stroller when I get in an elevator at my office, and I won’t have to bring a sippy cup and mum mums everywhere with me, so that’s going to be strange surely.) But we will acclimatize to our new situation, because that is what we do. The only thing constant in life is change, as the saying goes.

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I’m not one to write personal reflections on my blog: my blog is for book reviews, writing relief, mixed with some food and city/travel tips. I like to keep my innermost thoughts to myself and those close to me, so I’m not writing a massive blog post detailing all of my challenges, emotions and adventures this past year with the newest addition in my life. But I did want to write something. I wanted to offer the above notes to those new moms or soon-to-be moms who have those days where they feel like they are at their wits’ end. You aren’t alone. In Canada, we are lucky to get ONE YEAR with our little ones, to help them grow and develop, to love and foster them. And while some days can be tough, they will pass and the next day will be a new day. And on that new day you get to make your little muffin smile or laugh, and you get to snuggle them close. And that love makes it all worth it. You soon forget you were stressed, tired or grumpy.

Photo by Malinka Photogrpahy

Photo by Malinka Photogrpahy

So, while I am not a pro by any means, those are my thoughts. Soon enough, your little nugget will turn one, and you’ll be reflecting on the past year thinking about how it flew by and how you can’t believe you are a parent to a one-year-old. It’s incredible. I never knew I would love being a mama so much. I’m trying the best I can at this new job of mine, and I think I’m doing okay so far, for the most part.

We all have different struggles and wins, but we get through it because our hearts are full. And mine is as full as it has ever been.

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2 replies »

  1. Lovely blog Kelly…I remember our chat the October before you had him…you’ve all come out alright!😘

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