Maternity Leave… The Long Goodbye

Going on maternity leave from flying was a welcome break. Of course, it is difficult knowing I have no income coming in on my end. But to stop flying at 36 weeks meant nothing to me. I work with a company of over three hundred flight attendants in Denver alone so I rarely see or fly with the same group. Stepping away from that job has further underscored I have no emotional attachment to that line of work. Passengers don’t know I’m gone, pilots and flight attendants don’t know I’m gone (except the very few I’m friends with), and it’s the same thing day in and day out so I’m not missing anything important.

 

Stepping away from teaching fitness however, well it’s been a really long good-bye.

Natalie shooting her last pregnancy workout video

Anyone that knows me knows I have a hard time saying good-bye even to my friends I know I’ll see again in the next day or two. I’m one of those people that lingers. I can’t ever quite cut the conversation. I am sure on more than one occasion I have annoyed my husband as he waits in the car while I’m still saying my last good-byes. I’m that person that will say good-bye to you and walk the opposite way then turn around and watch you go when you probably don’t even know I’m watching you. I hate endings, whether it’s a book, a movie or my own life. I stay awake far past when I should because I don’t want the day to end. I really try and hold on to each moment and that’s probably why I document so much of life in photographs. So I guess it should come as no surprise that I have spent the past few weeks trying to figure out how to say good-bye to teaching yoga, spin, kettlebells and barre classes.

I wrestled over when to take my leave, even extending it a week past when I thought I would. This weekend marks the last of my classes, and I almost cried after yoga Saturday. I spent time after class lingering in the studio. I knew I would be back to take classes in the next few days but for me it would be the last time to lock the studio door as a teacher for a while. It’s not that I don’t think I’ll ever be back; it’s just that I know the person who will come back won’t be the person that left. I’m stepping back to embark on one of life’s hardest and probably most important journeys, and the person who comes back and stands in front of class won’t be the same.

It’s hard letting that person go. The person who has the freedom to come and go as she pleases. The person who can get up at 7am on a Saturday and rush out of the house to teach an eager group of kettlebell/barre students. The person who can teach at 6am on a Friday then take a nap and go back out and teach spin at noon. The person who can have lunch after class with a friend or go get her hair done or run any other of those simple errands you take for granted when you don’t have a child in tow. I guess the current version of myself is grieving as she watches the simple life walk away – knowing I have to turn and walk into an uncertain life in another direction.

Some of my day classes I don’t know if I can come back to teach and that makes it hard. We don’t have family in town so I don’t have built in babysitters or child care lined up. I haven’t thought that far into the future yet but I know something will have to give. While I am excited to take some time for myself and to just enjoy these last few weeks of being “alone” I am also sad to be taking a step away from teaching. I have worked hard to build up relationships with my students and to build up my classes. I know that time will not stop just because I am gone, and they may move on in the meantime. When you teach yoga and group fitness classes you get to a point where you realize that a lot of these students are there for YOU. To be inspired by you, to have you lead them and to have you kick their butts. And the ego inside wonders, “if I’m not there who will take care of them?” Of course, my studio has many many great teachers; I guess I just don’t want to be forgotten.

The empty yoga studio, post-last class

So I have drawn out the good-bye.

At the end of the day I left the respective studios this weekend without fan fare. Without a line of all the students I’d ever met waving good-bye, just a hug here and there and a lingering. Then it was just me alone as it was meant to be. Turning out the lights and closing and locking the door. Knowing I’ll be back in a new form when I do return and being ok with the uncertainty of the future. For me it took great courage to step into the shoes of a teacher so I guess it’s no surprise that it took the equal amount to know when it was time to step away. I’ll miss it; I really will.

I guess that’s the true test of loving something – knowing when to let go but also the invitation to miss it when it’s gone.

 

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About the Author: Natalie Magee writes a regular column for Happiness Series about what motherhood and beyond - from prenatal to postpartum. Her intention with her column, "Baby & Beyond - What No One Else Will Tell You" is to give practical advice and tips to the busy mom and mom-to-be. She also shares her experiences good, bad and ugly as a woman, wife, mom, flight attendant and fitness instructor. Natalie is also a regular fitness contributor on Happiness Series. She will continue to create great, effective workouts for anyone - including the busy moms out there - who wants to get fit and stay in shape.