I left my children today.  I got them up early, got them dressed and fed…and then left them.

You see, it was my first day back at work since having William.  My first day as a working Mum again in just over ten months.

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Don’t worry about the children, they were fine.  I left them in the very capable hands of my Mother-in-Law.  I knew they would be well looked after and have a fun time, but it didn’t stop me feeling bad, feeling guilty.

I had been anxious about my return to work for a little while.  When I say anxious, I mean proper pit-of-your-stomach, gut-wrenching anxious.  How would I cope?  How would my children cope?  Thinking over the most likely weekday routine that would be needed, I understood I would hardly see them during the week.

And that made me cry.

I don’t want to miss out on my children’s experiences.  The other week, I took them to their weekly playgroup and it hit me (figuratively obviously, not literally) that this would be the last time for a while that I would be able to do that.

And that made me cry.

Yesterday, I tried to make the most of my last day at home with Olivia and William.  We went to the local soft play centre and had a great time.  I loved seeing the enjoyment on their beaming little faces and how happy they were with me.  I felt guilty at the thought of ‘abandoning’ them to go back to work.

And that made me cry.

This morning, I dropped them at their grandmother’s house.  As I said goodbye and closed the door behind me, it felt like my heart was being ripped from my chest.  I’ve never experienced such a powerful feeling before.

And that made me cry.

Once on the train into work I took a deep breath and composed myself.  Good job too because I needed all the calm and patience I could muster to survive a hellish commute on the London Underground system.  That was definitely something I hadn’t missed.

Once in the office, I smiled, said hello and turned on the computer.  I checked my phone in case I had missed any calls about the children.  I hadn’t.  Then I took a deep breath and exhaled, slowly dispelling some of the anxiety I had been feeling the week before.  My head cleared.  I had a catch-up with my boss.  My head cleared some more and I felt much more at ease.

By lunchtime, I was feeling relatively chipper.  I called my mother-in-law to check on Olivia and William and received a positive report back.  Phew.  I even felt fairly positive that this was a routine that we would all get used to quickly.

That positivity stayed with me all day.  Until I got home and got emotional all over again.

Olivia and William were pleased to see me.  Don’t get me wrong, they weren’t over-the-moon, desperately pleased to see me, but they were happy I was home.  I, on the other hand, just wanted to hug them forever.  I had missed them.  Even their tantrums.

I think this is much harder on me than it is on them, to be honest.  They both seem to have adapted well, even though it has only been one day so far.  I know that by working, I am helping to provide a roof over their heads, food on the table and anything else they need or wish for.  But, deep down I also know that what they want most in the world is time with their Mum and Dad.  I feel like I’m being pulled in different directions.

I am sure it will get easier.  I am fortunate that I have a job that I love with good colleagues and I am able to work safe in the knowledge that my children are getting the care and attention they deserve from their grandmother who loves them deeply.  And I have my plan, of course…

Did you go back to work after having children?  If you did, was it one of the most difficult things you had to do?  How did you cope?  If you didn’t, why not?  Are you glad you made the decision you did?  Can a balance really be struck between career and family?