Wednesday, June 11, 2008

From the Director's Desk: Returning to Work After Maternity Leave

by Laura Thompson Osuri

Wednesday, June 4 was my first official day in the Street Sense office after having a baby 10 weeks ago. While I and my baby boy, Isaac, had stopped by several times during my maternity leave, this was my first time there without him, and this was my first time since he was born that I was committed to focusing my day’s energy on work, not taking care of a baby.

I was not happy the morning of June 4. I cried as I left Isaac with my mother–in–law. I knew Isaac would be alright as he was in good hands but I was not sure if I would be alright. I have grown quite attached to this little man since he arrived in my life on March 26, and was not ready to leave him all day. Several weeks before June 4, I had already started working on Street Sense stuff from home and had gotten quite comfortable with checking e–mails and making a few phone calls while he was napping. Being in the office all day was quite a different story.

But when I got in the office there were immediately several other things to think about: planning for the fundraiser, paying bills, checking in on grants, organizing intern projects and a variety of other tasks. And it was actually nice to be around all the craziness of the office and see all the vendors again. And surprisingly, I fell right back into my multi–tasking Street Sense routine, and I found myself working just like I did before March 26, as if things had not change at all in my life.

But things have definitely changed. And I knew they would but I did not realize by how much. Before having Isaac, I thought that after 10 weeks of maternity leave I would be itching to go back to Street Sense and continue being a productive member of the workforce. But honestly, I don’t feel that way at all. Instead I have gained a new–found respect and envy for stay–at–home moms.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not going to abandon Street Sense. I am still fully committed to it and its growth and success. But now after nearly five years of giving my all to Street Sense, I have something else more important to watch grow and succeed.

So I am not really sure where I am going with this editorial rambling. I was hoping the point of the editorial would be that I was dreading going back but when I did, I realized how much I missed Street Sense. But that is not the case. The case really is that I am conflicted and confused. What I thought were my ideals and priorities have been turned on their heads, and where I used to be notoriously strong and decisive, I am now weepy mess when I think about the future.

I want to put all my energy into making Isaac happy and healthy but at the same time I feel obligated to Street Sense and all that I have helped to create. So I guess I just have to figure out that balance, as I am sure millions of working moms before me have. Who knew being a mom and the executive director of Street Sense would be so confusing?

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