After maternity leave: A diary of my first day back at work

Katie Dupuis shares the emotional highs and lows of returning to work after her mat leave.

Juliette-Dupuis
Katie found it difficult to return to work after her mat leave with eight-month-old Juliette. Photo: Katie Dupuis

The Friday before my first day back at work, 7 a.m.: My three-year-old, Sophie, is sick, so she’s staying home from daycare. That means absolutely nothing I intended to do today will be possible, including soaking up a final afternoon of eight-month-old baby Juliette cuddles. If I cuddle the baby, I have to cuddle the preschooler. The preschooler’s version of cuddling is somewhat violent.

Saturday, 10 a.m.: Grocery shopping means mentally making a week’s worth of work lunches, plus weeknight dinners that come together easily. My husband Blaine reminds me that he’s on paternity leave and will not just be sitting around eating bonbons, that he can assemble dinner. I tell him in a scary, foreboding voice that he has no idea what he’s in for.

Saturday, 5 p.m.: Dinner out to celebrate the start of my new job at Walmart Live Better and the beginning of Blaine’s pat leave. Sophie eats all of her breaded shrimp (obviously), but only licks the orange slices on her place. All of them, so she doesn’t have to share with her baby sister. We make her share anyway.

Sunday, 9 a.m.: The cleaning frenzy starts. Obviously I can’t go to work on Monday with a dirty house. Because I’m like that. (I know I should stop being like that.) The house is super tidy for four-and-a-half minutes, but at least I know they can’t unclean a toilet in short order.

Sunday, 8 p.m.: The children are not sleeping. Because that would be way too easy.

Sunday, 9 p.m.: One child sleeping, one wide awake. Clearly.

Sunday, midnight: Everyone’s finally snoozing. Clothes are laid out for the next day, including swimming stuff for the littlest one who has parent-and-tot lessons in the morning. Lunches and knapsacks are packed. I walk around and tidy (again), then peek in on my kids. I watch them sleep until they stir, then back out of their rooms quietly. I watch a Big Bang Theory rerun (is it ever NOT on?!) to avoid crying my eyes out.

Monday, 5:45 a.m.: I can’t sleep a minute more. Let’s do this. I shower and get dressed quickly (because I tried on all the outfits that fit me the day before), and I try a new braid in my hair, hoping it looks pretty and professional, rather than like I’m 15. I decide it’s the former (which is basically a miracle). I put on my makeup, which feels completely foreign after being at home for eight months. I poke myself in the eye with my lash curler and have to re-do my eyeliner because my eye is watering. Soph asks me, “Why is your eye crying? Are you sad like me because you’re going to work?” Then I tear up for real.

7 a.m.: Everyone is dressed and fed and we’re in the car. Traffic is on our side. Soph’s daycare drop off goes fine; my office drop off is not quite as easy. I swallow the lump in my throat as I kiss Juliette’s fuzzy little head.

8:30 a.m.: I drink an entire cup of coffee while it’s still hot. Things are looking up.

9:30 a.m.: First meeting of the day. I have grown-up conversations and do not have to watch Toopy and Binoo. It’s a whole new world.

10:30 a.m.: Blaine sends me a pic of Juliette after her swimming lesson. I sniffle—until he tells me she’s also refusing to take a nap.

Noon: I eat my entire lunch without having to share it with anyone. I hear someone down the hall visiting with a new baby and wish I had to share my lunch with someone.

5 p.m.: I bolt at the closing bell, eager to see my girls (oh right, and Blaine). I read on the subway and remember how much I love real, ink-and-paper books after months of reading eBooks on my phone late at night when Juliette would only sleep in my arms.

6 p.m.: I walk through the door at home and Soph runs to greet me. She gives me the rundown of who got in trouble at daycare, as she does daily. (She is never included in that list.) I give Blaine a kiss and congratulate him on surviving Day One. Juliette all but dislocates her shoulders when she sees me, as she flails her arms excitedly. Then she wipes her squash-covered face all over my blazer. But it’s perfection.

Walmart Live Better editor-in-chief Katie Dupuis likes structure and organization. A lot. Now, imagine this Type A editor with a baby. Funny, right? We’re sure you’ll love Katie’s musings on life with Sophie, Juliette and husband Blaine. Read all of Katie’s Type A Baby posts and follow her on Twitter@katie_dupuis.

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