Parental leave is a strange place of existence. I’m suspended between “real life” and this insulated little cocoon that is my current state. No one expects much of me, other than to keep two kids alive (rather, alive AND thriving!). I can cancel plans at a moments notice, be late, allow my house to fall into disrepair, and the most I elicit from outside observers is an eyebrow raise. It’s general knowledge how hard it can be to have small children… and if one should take advantage, who am I to question them?
It’s a fun position to be in, despite these tiny, complex personalities I interact with all day.
The Return Process…
I checked my work email yesterday for the first time since I went off on my parental leave. There were 967 messages awaiting my discerning action.
Who won the hospital foundation lottery? I can share ten months worth of winners (that’s a lie, I reviewed no more than a month’s worth of messages before gleefully slamming my computer shut in favour of ANYTHING but processing emails).
What’s the latest in “Coronavirus” prep and response at good ol’ KBRH? I know that too…
I face numerous updates regarding policy, new equipment, training, and management changes, because… SURPRISE, when one is absent, work does, in fact go on without you.
I began the arduous process of sorting through what’s important, and liberally deleting that which could be “put aside”.
Its time to start counting down the days, calculating how many unused vacation days I can apply to stretch this uninterrupted kid time further.
I find myself questioning if I should have opted for 18 months of leave, despite no more financial incentives, and loss of pensionable service. Can I consider an extra few months unpaid? Should I even entertain such thoughts at the risk of leaving my coworkers without me through the busy summer months? On that note, would my absence even be noted?
I glance at the calendar, mentally plot where nightshifts fall, consider the courses and recertifications that will be due. I contrast the need for daycare with the imposition on my mother-in-law and the childcare she so graciously provides. Play-school will be a reality this time also, one I put little emphasis on until one little-boy recently started asking to “go to school”. How do you even know what school is, Harry?
Additionally, though, and perhaps most significant, is my fear.
My job challenges me, and while I enjoy what I do, I retain some amount of “Imposter syndrome” in my nursing role. I fear the mistakes I could make. I’m scared of judgement errors, and not being able to re-aquire enough knowledge after months oft using my “nursing muscles”.
I don’t want to cry in my car after workdays full of unrelieved breaks and heartache.
I don’t want to run around the ICU, playing constant “catch-up” because there are more tasks than there are hours in the shift (or is it just my own poor time-management?)
I don’t want to miss bedtimes, and be faced with little grumpy, bleary-eyed early wake-up’s, bound for grandparent’s houses and then daycare.
Here’s the thing: I only work part-time, I have access and resources to put my kids in childcare, and I have people in my life that love nothing more than to help out. I am lucky.
I sit here reviewing the above-mentioned misgivings and fears, manifesting another feeling…GUILT! I want for very little in my life, there’s not a single basic need that I lack. Can I not simply be grateful and stop wanting more?!
I want more, though! Always more! More time! Time with my kids. For them and for me. More snuggles and meals and playtime and lessons!
I’m sure I’ll get my wish of “more” once the daycare germs start to circulate.