I get out of bed at 8am just as my baby is beginning to stir after a long night’s sleep. I bring him downstairs, where he lets me prepare a healthy breakfast for the both of us. Snow is softly falling outside, the end of a storm that blew through the night before. Our front yard is Winter White, and it’s just as serene inside as it appears outside. Snow day!
Baby and I spend the day snuggling under a mountain of blankets on the couch, napping, eating and watching movies. We have beef stew slowly cooking on the stove, lovingly and unhurriedly prepared and ready for Dad when he gets home. Baby Boy loves this quiet snow day as much as I do. Maybe tomorrow we’ll be snowed in again, another perfect day on maternity leave.
Sounds heavenly, right? I must admit I’ve had this fantasy about my maternity leave more than once in recent months. With my baby’s arrival expected in the first weeks of January, I’m relieved that I’ll be on maternity during what will potentially be the worst part of winter. I’ll take a day at home with my baby over ice-skating my way into work any day of the week. I also am already in desperate need of some time off from work, and I’m sure even more so after a busy upcoming holiday season. Am I considering my maternity leave to be a kind of vacation from work? Absolutely. Do I think it’ll be all sunshine and rainbows? Not exactly. More like snow clouds and Nor’easters. I know the first few weeks and months of motherhood are going to be tough, but I’m hoping it will be a needed break nonetheless from my usual work routine. So, how about this scenario instead?
A screaming baby wakes me at 6:30am, again. This is the fourth time he’s wanted to breastfeed since I finally made it to bed last night. After an hour of eating/snoozing in the nursery rocking chair, Baby Boy and I head downstairs so I can find something for breakfast. I lunge for the coffee pot—first thing’s first—and then grab a handful or two of Cheerios straight out of the box while I try to wrangle an always squirmy baby with the other arm. Crap, it’s still snowing. The snow is rapidly filling up our just-cleared driveway. I won’t be able to get out there in shovel, not with a newborn. Looks like we won’t be going anywhere today.
Baby and I spend the day snuggling under a mountain of blankets on the couch, me sleeping when he does, and trying to eat when he does. I can tell he’s just as restless as I am stuck here at home, and I haven’t had time to put dinner on the stove like I had planned. Maybe Dad will be okay with leftovers from the freezer again, unless he wants to make something else when he gets home. Maybe tomorrow we’ll be able to get out of the house to at least go grocery shopping. We won’t last another snow day with what’s left in the fridge.
Okay, maybe let’s mix scene one with scene two for the most accurate portrayal of what my maternity leave will be like. I have no disillusions that my maternity leave will be a perfect dream, but I’m certainly not expecting a nightmare, either. My maternity leave will be just as short as a New England season, so I’m going to enjoy every bit of it I possibly can; I’ll take the good with the bad, the easy with the hard, the sunshine with the snow.