My husband returned to work last week after 12 weeks of paternity leave. Yes, 12 weeks. We are very grateful that he has the opportunity to work for a company that provides such amazing benefits to help its employees prioritize family. I, as a mother and wife am beyond thankful for this especially with this being our second child. It helped my toddler transition from only child to big brother with less hiccups and meltdowns, and it allowed both of us to bond with the new baby. As the 12 weeks were winding down, I sensed that my husband was realizing that he wouldn’t see the kids all day every day anymore. On the Monday he went back to work I could feel and see how hard it was on him to set his alarm and head out the door after 3 months where his only job was daddy.
From my experience, there is a lot of sympathizing and support for moms when they return to work, but often times not a lot of extra thought goes into dads heading back to the office. I am a working mom’s #1 fan with full empathy for how hard it is to leave your children. You all deserve all the in-person and virtual hugs you can get, but most of the time dads don’t see even a fraction of that comforting. We forget that dads miss their kids too because moms are often seen as the care providers during those early months and dad is expected to return to work right away. My husband was so afraid that the boys were going to forget about him and that he was going to miss milestones while he was working. It made me realize that I was also guilty of thinking about him going back to work as commonplace with no understanding of how hard it is on him. On top of missing the boys, he was feeling like he was abandoning me too – I assured him that he was not, that this is what I signed up for, and that we both had greater peace of mind knowing the boys were home with me all day. So, for the first couple of weeks I downplayed our toddler’s tantrums and exaggerated our infants “great” naps because the power of positive thinking can go a long way and Lord knows we both needed it.
This whole experience of having my husband home for so long has made me have a greater compassion for spouses after a baby is born. If you think about it, when someone comes over to visit a baby, 90% of the focus is on the baby – how’s the baby doing, he/she is so cute, can I hold him/her – 9% is on the mom – are you getting any sleep, you look great – and 1% is on the dad (if that). I feel bad even saying this, but I’m not sure I can even remember asking my husband how he was doing when he returned to work after our first son. I do now though because I know he misses them, and although he loves his job, home is always the greatest place to be.
So here is a virtual hug to all the dads out there missing their families as they return to work days, weeks, or months into your child’s life.♥