By Sara Lapp, Counsellor, Catholic Family Service
I thrive on the routine of work. I love my morning coffee at the office, I love having a productive session and I love coming home after an engaging and challenging day. My work has always been a love and a passion and I derive great meaning from it. So as you can imagine, parental leave was quite the change of skill set and pace for me. Don’t get me wrong; having the opportunity to stay home with my daughter was one of the greatest times of my life. But on May 1, 2017, I got dressed in “real” clothes and returned to work.
The journey back to my office was not as simple as I thought it was going to be. I had been in contact with my supervisor and managing director long before my date to return, I had kept in contact both professionally and personally with my colleagues and I had read some of the books that had piled up on my bookshelf. As far as I was concerned, I was prepared to pick up where I had left off ten months earlier.
The thing is, I was no longer the same person who left all those months ago. Establishing my role as my daughter’s mother had developed parts of me that I did not know existed. I became mindful of the pace of our life, I became fiercely protective of my daughter’s space in this world as a female, and I became overwhelmed with the joy of being a family.
As we all make transitions from one stage of life to another, some expected and some not, we enter a process of renegotiation. We renegotiate our roles within our families, within our workplaces, within our communities and with ourselves. Some questions that I have found helpful are:
- What are my priorities?
- What are my expectations of myself?
- What are my expectations of those around me? My partner? My employer? My friends?
- Are these expectations reasonable for the long term?
- What am I doing to care for myself?
- Am I communicating my needs?
My return to work is still in it’s infancy as my daughter crawls to chase the cat. I have to remind myself that one of the best, most loving things I can do for my family is to be the best version of myself. That means trusting what I know I need in terms of my family and social life as well as my work life. It also means that as I get to know my daughter and my partner as a father, I need to honour this new and developing relationship with myself. I need to talk, rest, laugh, exercise, work and, most importantly, offer patience as I figure this all out.
Are you in transition right now? Struggling to set your priorities? We can journey with you. Read more about our Affordable Counselling Program.