Because, the truth is, there are things that I will miss. Not the daily event of "going to work". Not the trains, the nursery runs, the late running meetings or the logistical juggling act we have been managing recently. No, it's not these - it's the intangible elements of undertaking a paid job which I found difficult to relinquish last time I was on maternity leave, and which I now find myself considering again as I try to prepare myself for doing it all over again. It's the ability to control my day (to a degree), or influence the actions that are being taken to reach an end point. The notion that I am adding value to a situation or that I have a contribution to make that will be listened to and taken on board.
Now before anyone takes this to mean that I don't understand the important role we as parents play in raising our children I know all of this can be applied to parenting, but it is far more oblique. A much slower burn to positive outcomes. When the simplest of suggestions ("shall we clean our teeth now?" or "perhaps you could put your shoes away rather than discard them at the front door for someone else to deal with") are met with repeated refusals to cooperate and (on particularly testing days) tantrums which would register on the Richter Scale, it is particularly difficult to quantify on a daily or even weekly basis the positive impact you are having. Rarely, as the parent of a toddler, do I find myself concluding the day thinking "good job. Nailed it. Now on to the next one". Sure, there are obvious achievements over time, but more often than not, any feeling at the end of the day on par with "Phew, that was a near miss. Disaster averted for now. Where's the wine?" is a genuine result.
So as I sit here, waiting for project number two to come along, I am not without some feelings of trepidation. Project plans and meetings to brief the team aren't on the agenda. I can't control this - I can't plan for all eventualities or ponder over a risk register. I can't switch external suppliers because they failed me last time, or suggest we iron out the hurdles in the plan over lunch. I can't leave it all behind at 5:30, or hand it over to a colleague when I go on holiday. But more than that - the biggest consideration in all of this is that there are no second chances here. I am currently managing the two most important projects of my life, and there is no option of a re-run if it all goes horribly wrong.