So, I know we have been a bit quiet on here lately but lots of things have changed and…. I have gone back to work. Which in all fairness has been massive.
Last year in November I started having conversations again with my employer and just to give you a bit of background, I work in consulting as a change manager. My employer has been amazing in my return to work. I am completely supported in how I want to do it and what feels right for me and us as a family which is really great. Contrary to the Netherlands, In Australia there are no policies or procedures that give employers direction, it’s a matter of what an employer wants to do in this case. So, we talked about what I would like to do, how much I think I could work, how we would prepare my team and as so many new people have joined the team, how that would change the way we would prepare them and myself.
However, for me it’s so different coming back this time compared to after the girls. My leave wasn’t just maternity leave. It has also been bereavement leave and coming back after this type of leave means that I don’t have the nice baby pictures to show, or cute baby stories to tell. I don’t have bags underneath my eyes due to sleepless nights with a crying baby, I don’t feel I can brag about my amazing family instead this time my return to work is layered. Layered with grief, finding a way to tell my story without triggering to many people. it’s opening up about our struggles, it’s bags underneath my eyes as sleep has never been the same since Boet. But on the other hand, work gives me an opportunity to talk and think about other things then my kids. I am currently working on an internal project, identifying ways how my employer and its employees can work more effective and efficient which resulted in me chatting to lots of people I know from before Boet and also meeting lots of new colleagues. It is exactly the right thing for me to do now.
Some say work is a great distraction, well let me take you out of that dream, it isn’t. It’s great for sure but not a distraction. I am lucky enough to be able to work during school hours and from home for now which is what my family and I need. So, I can keep to girls steady stable with school, homework and after school activities. It means a lot of shifting and switching in my brain which is definitely something I need to relearn. To top that off, I don’t think I could ever not think about either one of my kids, whether they’re alive or dead. I think that they are always playing a part in what is occupying me at that very moment whether that is consciously or subconsciously. I am almost there to start challenging others when they say something like that, but I feel I need to get a bit stronger to be able to do. I would love to teach myself to respond with a whitty response: ‘which of your children do you ever not think about?’ ‘Which child do you forget by getting distracted’ and I know I do more harm with those responses than anything else, but I think one of my tasks is to show and teach what some of these comments do with people going through traumatising experiences.
Work is also not a distraction because Boet and everything that has happened has changed me, and I am not the same. Same as I was not the same when Caat and Eef were born. Life experiences do change you and I think we need to embrace it and own it. It’s so interesting to hear some of my colleagues say: ‘you haven’t changed a bit these last 2 years’, or: ‘It’s great to see your smiling face again through a computer screen’. Don’t get me wrong, they mean well and try and make me feel safe and secure. Also, I probably haven’t changed much if you just see me on a screen and I genuinely feel happy and so honoured to be part of this group again, but I have changed for sure and behind that smiling face hides a world of tears, grief, laughter, happiness and love so much love for all my 3 kids Caat, Eef and Boet. My work however is a great add on to my crazy life.
So one bit of advice, hold your loved ones tight and please be distracted by all of them, they make you who you are, and we all need you.