Earlier today, facebook kindly reminded me that it has been a year since I started maternity leave. A year since I took 6 months off to be with my two boys and away from the safety of my job. It was a scary, but exciting, prospect as I have never been a good stay at home on my own kind of person (I get bored way too quickly!). I wrote a lovely blog post about my hopes and dreams for that 6 months so I thought it would be good to reflect on whether I have achieved what I set out to do.
The first thing I wanted to do was deepen my relationship with God through praying and reading the bible during nighttime feeds. Although this was always a challenge and a battle against falling asleep, I did manage to follow a bible reading devotional each day on my phone, normally whilst doing my morning feed. I found this really helpful in learning more about biblical parenting as that was the reading plan I downloaded – one verse that I read early on really challenged me for the whole 6 months of my maternity leave:
“The Lord is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love” Psalm 145:8
This verse helped me when Sam was being a nightmare and struggling to adjust to having Reuben about. If God is gracious with me, then I too should be gracious to Sam. Yes there are times to be angry, but the best parenting I could do was being rich in love and compassionate, understanding the changes he was going through and helping to guide him through that rather than just shouting at him because I was tired.
The second thing I wanted to do was forge new relationships with other mums. I really tried to join new groups and meet up with mum friends (mainly just to escape the prison of my own home!!!). This meant that I was able to develop some amazing mum friendships and start some new local ones too. I hope that I am able to keep in touch with some of these, but even just being able to say hi when out and about is a great encouragement to me, and hopefully them too! Motherhood is best done together – there is real strength in numbers.
So I would say my 6 months off (and the following 6 months back at work) have been a huge success and not at all wasted. I have grown as a parent (there are soooo many more challenges with two kids), I have grown as a child of God and I have grown many new friendships. I feel so blessed to have been able to have 6 months off this time round instead of 6 weeks but now I am back into the crazy busyness of being a working mum, and I love it!!