Those of you who have been reading this blog for a while might remember that back in December 2009, Mike and I left our respective jobs to travel around for just under 5 months. We returned to find new career directions and in January 2011, after a few detours, I found myself back at the very agency I had left - but with a new role. This last year has been challenging in the best of ways but now here I am, 36 weeks pregnant and about to say goodbye once again but this time for a whole different kind of adventure: I begin maternity at the end of this week! In Quebec, mothers are entitled to 50 weeks of paid maternity leave. One full year! I've decided to take my full year but this decision is bittersweet. I am so excited to be a mom but I have no idea what challenges lay ahead and I'd be lying if I said that I wasn't nervous about how I'll adapt to my new routine.
Over the last year I've worked on some really fantastic projects alongside people I truly admire and respect. Professionally, I've developed confidence in my abilities and a greater sense of direction. At the same time, I feel like I still have so much to learn. That's what makes putting the brakes on my career so challenging. I continuously question myself. Will I be relevant when I return? Will I even want to return? What if, on the other hand, I hate being at home? Will I remember how to do my job?
I'm definitely struggling with feelings of guilt about leaving my job for a full year. At the same time, I absolutely want to be 100% present in my child's first year of life. So I'm having to give myself a lot of pep talks about shifting priorities and standing by my decisions. Making the decision to stop working is a very personal one (I just feel lucky to even have this as an option!). Ultimately, you don't know how much your life will change or how you'll feel about being a stay-at-home mom or working mom until you give it a shot! I know that I'll have to be patient as I try to figure out what balancing act works for me.
I would love to hear about your own experience/feelings on this topic. Did you take your full mat leave? Do you wish you'd taken more time to stay at home or did you end up returning to work earlier than expected?