Last week at work we interviewed for the person who will be covering my maternity leave. It’s starting to feel very real, now I only have about 5 weeks of work left.
The rest of the year stretches ahead of me like a desert, empty of the familiar but sometimes tiresome routine: alarm going off; the drive to work; dealing with tasks and problems I’m used to.
Several months being a full-time mum to a new baby will be full, of course, but I don’t know yet exactly what with.
On the one hand, I feel so happy and lucky that we’re here. I’m pregnant and in a couple of months we’re having a baby – what could be more exciting? On the other, there’s apprehension at the unknown.
I enjoy my job. It challenges me, works my brain, keeps me in close contact with important goings-on in the world.
Motherhood will be different. Maternity leave days will be centred around keeping my baby alive, well and happy. I will go to new places – the non-parent nightmare of ‘play gyms’, etc – and spend time with new people.
Will I adjust? Will I be a good parent? Will I feel defined by being a ‘mum’? Will it change me? Will I feel of less value? Will I ever have time to shave my legs?
When I first started to think about someone taking my seat at work for several months, it just felt weird.
Would they be better or more liked than me?
Given responsibility for dealing with all the applications, I joked about deleting the emails from the best candidates. I didn’t though!
Getting more used to the idea, I began to look forward to the lifestyle change and realised I wanted someone good to replace me. I care about my boss and my colleagues and the continuation of the good work I know I’ve done over the last few years. I want to come back to the job having been done well, to organised records, to not having to put right and repair something someone else has messed up.
I still feel slightly insecure. The candidates were highly educated, well qualified and full of enthusiasm. One applicant wrote that she had “no dependents” so could give her all to the job. Ouch!
OK new girl, my focus now sometimes drifts from what my boss is doing and saying onto what my baby might like to ride on, sleep in and play with, but I have a lot of brownie points in the bank, you just remember that.
After the interviews, my boss said: “None of them is as good as you, Anna.” It was sweet, but I didn’t think it true.
I hope I go back to work after maternity leave having enjoyed living an entirely different life. I hope I feel like I’ve done a good job for the first few months of a tiny human’s life.
I hope I go back to work in some way renewed (although no doubt sleep-deprived), with a fresh perspective and appreciation for a new, more complete life.