Returning to Work After Seven Years: The First Four Weeks


The idea of returning to work after being home with my son since his birth seven years ago was just that, an idea. There were dreams of what I’d do and where. The idea never went any further because I was happy at home; volunteering, training for a marathon, and our situation did not require me to hold a job. But for the past several months, it was a curious niggling that I kept going back to. Suddenly and without warning I was offered a temporary, full-time position right up my alley. The idea was now a shot at reality. I was returning to the workforce.

return to work

Week One

With a packed lunch, spring in my step, and our home schedule coordinated,  I went eagerly into the first week of working outside the home. The job itself wasn’t terribly daunting; it was in the hospitality and wine industry, and I fell into an easy rapport with guests. The hours allowed me to still get my son to school, however it put me home past his bedtime most nights. I returned home at the end of the day to a clean kitchen, leftovers in the fridge, and school paperwork carefully set out for me to read. It felt easy, exciting, and life kept moving in a forward motion. The neglected clothes in my closet were finally getting much-deserved attention, and it was refreshing. I was doing it!

Week Two

Pleased to get home from work to find my son still awake, I lovingly asked, “may I finish up bedtime since I haven’t been able to lately?” “No, Dad is. I didn’t really see him all day.” The honeymoon was over. I cried nearly every  day on my commute to work. Things were moving along swimmingly at home without me. My guys were having fun, holding down the fort, going on play dates and adventures. I couldn’t help but wonder if things don’t fall apart while I’m gone, what does that say about what I’ve done for the past seven years? I felt replaceable and it stung.

Week Three

Emotions had settled and my enthusiasm and gratitude were back. Consequently, my husband was the one feeling the brunt. What came second nature to me, didn’t come as easily to him. “Being you is hard,” he admitted one evening, tired and feeling a lack of patience. I encouraged him, reminded him I had seven years of practice. He didn’t need to be me; he just needed to be himself.

Week Four and beyond

A groove was reached. Sacrifices were made on all parts, but we were learning a new way of getting through our days. I cherished breakfast with my son, hearing about the previous days’ events. I savored our walks to school and the feel of his hand holding mine. The meals cooked by hands other than my own tasted especially good. For several hours, five days a week, instead of being mom, I became a friendly face greeting guests, pouring wine, and having conversations about food, travel, vineyards, and college football teams. I’d forgotten about this part of me, and I enjoyed meeting her again.

It also forced me to let go a little (which is not my strong suit!).  With every “no” I had to say, it gave my husband an opportunity to say “yes!” He learned, furthermore, that his mindset changed. My husband and son’s bond grew stronger. The trust between them deepened. By stepping outside of the house and into a work setting, we were all offered a unique perspective. The landscape of our family changed, and as a result it was a view we all grew to appreciate and admire.