When I left work, I was pregnant. Pelvic issues had me in pain when standing (which, as a teacher, is unavoidable), so I went off about a month before Miles arrived. I spent the weeks waiting for him to arrive nesting, resting, and counting down the days until I could meet our little man. The moment he was born, he was my purpose- my full-time job. When Miles got sick, my maternity benefits switched over to something called the Critical Illness benefit, designed for parents who are caring for a critically ill child. Never in my wildest dreams did I think this benefit would be something I would need, but so it was.
In February after Miles passed, my Critical Illness benefit stopped because there was no child left to care for. And so, I went on a paid sick leave through my School Board, which I am so very fortunate to be entitled to. I have spent the months since losing him in a haze- putting one foot in front of the other, and filling my days with I-don’t-even-know-what. I do remember walks with friends, visits with family, knitting, reading and writing. Always writing. These days and months were sacred- a time to reflect, to heal, and to navigate this new world I have found myself in. Having dedicated time off work felt right for me, because, in a way, my job was to mourn. I was afforded the time and space to honour Miles without distraction- and this full-time job, as difficult as it was, was essential.
Almost seven months since losing him, I have made the decision to return to teaching. It’s September, a logical time for a teacher to return to work, and thankfully (or unfortunately, depending on who you’re talking to), there is an option for me to teach virtually while the fourth wave of Covid sweeps over our nation. Teaching online is going to allow me a bit of a buffer- a screen can always be turned off if it needs to be in a moment when I’m triggered, whereas standing in front of a full classroom of kids while having a stage-five meltdown would be slightly less than ideal.
My home office is Miles’ bedroom- a room that no longer contains his crib or dresser, but still feels like his. I look out the same window he looked out when we changed his diapers. The smell of his clothes still lingers when I open his closet. The collage of pictures of him still hangs on the wall. And so although I am returning to my other full-time job, Miles is everywhere. I am terrified that I won’t have time to honour him in the same ways with my mental and emotional energy being spent elsewhere, but I know this transition- this forward motion- is inevitable and healthy.
When I left work, I was pregnant. Miles was literally a part of me. And although returning to work without him here shatters me, he is still a part of me. Missing him and loving him is more than a full-time job. So while I head back into the workforce, to my “real” job, I am comforted in knowing that no job will ever take precedent over loving him. I am a teacher, but above all else, I am Miles’ mom.