Today I had to leave this little raccoon butt behind because it was my first day back to work from maternity leave. Surprisingly, the most excruciating part of my day wasn’t leaving my infant, it was watching my toddler, Gus, cry at the front door because I couldn't play cars with him. I knew it would be hard, but it was a different kind of hard than I expected.
I didn't cry because I had to go back to work, I want to be at work. In fact, I am a much better mother, wife, and member of society when I have a purpose outside of the home. I cried because I felt like I broke his little heart (and then he was distracted by waffles and my leaving no longer mattered). Every mom struggles with different aspects of returning to work from defining their new role or fitting into work clothes with her postpartum mom bod to dropping her newborn off at daycare. Whatever that struggle might be, we all have a different set of needs. What we shouldn’t have to struggle with is knowing whether or not we are needed in our new roles.
I would like to bet that most moms would have an easier time returning if work wanted us back as much as our kids want us to be home. It's amazing how the experience of coming back to work can shape whether or not you want to be there, how much you as an individual value the organization you are in. When you are welcomed back with open arms, when you have people who reach out and tell you they are excited to have you back and others who are continuously thinking about how you can further serve the organization, then you feel like you have a purpose for being where you are. I've told you before and I'll tell you again: People want to feel a sense of belonging. They want to know they have a place. It takes little to no effort to say, "Welcome back!" or to setup a 15 min touchpoint to discuss next steps.