With two weeks left in my maternity leave, the question I am asked nearly every day is:
Are you excited to go back to work?
It’s such a big question with so very many answers.
I mean, yes. And no.
I am ready to work. I’d even venture to say that getting back to work will make me a better mom. I can feel my brain itching and drifting when I’m with him sometimes. Aching to do something other than mother (like the other day, I was so lazy. I should have taken him to do something fun! But I also just don’t feel like it. Anyway, I sat on the floor and watched him unroll all the toilet paper for a while.)
My boss texted me yesterday about new responsibilities and projects that immediately sent me looking for books to read and things to research. Yeah! I was excited. For real.
I’m excited to wear skirts and dresses and make-up and walk around the world with blow-dried hair. I’m excited to not wear nursing bras.
I’m worried that I won’t have any time. For personal projects. For exercise. For anything. I’m already plotting and scheming how I’ll manage to keep making yummy healthy dinners at night. I mean really: How do working parents do it all? Reveal your secrets, please.
There’s all the guilt and worry about leaving him in someone else’s care full time (it probably doesn’t help that I was run over by a car at a daycare when I was two). I’m having the hardest time getting my head around someone spending more time with him than us. Socialization, learning to listen/be with another adult. All good. But still.
And-of course-I’m going to miss him. Chasing him around the house. The way his giggles re-center the whole world. I’ll miss zipping him into his little bear suit for our morning walk. And hauling the stroller up and down the stairs to take him to the park. I’ll miss all the little nothings that happen over the course of the day.
Really, the hardest thing is not going back to work – but that first year of his life has come and gone. My first year as a parent.
I’ve wondered my whole life: What will it be like to be pregnant? To give birth? To be a mom? Who will my first child be? What will they look like?
A few of life’s great curiosities have been answered. Of course, of course, there are so very many more. So much to discover about this little human. About being a parent and life.
In a way, I feel like I’m launching a little planet from my orbit. He’ll ride next to me for a while and keep testing his limits, exploring, scooting away. Sometimes I think about how at the beginning, I was his universe. Then, Daddy entered. And incrementally from there, the world inches into his life, bit by bit. Less mom, more world.
But for this first year of his life, our worlds were one.
It’s been the best year of my life.
A couple of other things:
1. Last Friday, we had dinner with some friends. We were talking about our jobs. I said something like:
“There’s this idea/ideal in your head about work – this place where everything is clicking, you’re doing exactly what you want to be doing, killing it, surrounded by people that inspire you to, you’re making the right amount of money. You’re fulfilled in every way. But does it really exist?”
Do you have a vision? In my head, I see a blue sky and an ocean view and there’s a vibration, a hum, like a tuning fork. I’m not sure what this vision has to do with my career. Am I writing from a desk looking out at it? Or does it just feel to me what looking out at the ocean feels like? I really don’t know.
I do think that career exists for some people. But I also think the reality of it so much messier and more difficult than the picture in your head, that castle in the sky.
I had coffee with a friend the other day and she and her husband are living their dream. But it’s hard. He’s away traveling a lot, leaving her to parent alone. Work and family life are all mixed up. They work A LOT. There’s no going home at the end of the day and leaving it all behind.
All I’m saying is that reality is not in the clouds. It’s on the ground.
2. On Saturday we sat down to our finances. We want to buy a house so we mapped it all out.
I always find budgeting a little empowering and a little sobering.
Dan and I have been through some real financial distress. When we moved to Calgary, we were struggling in a big way (long story). It was scary. When we finally got out of the hole, I promised myself I would never go back. We’d be smarter. More prudent.
We have a good set up here. Our rent is low, and that allows us to focus on things like travel and adventure. Of course, James changes things. We have him registered at a dayhome and then we got offered a spot at a daycare that is $500 more a month. $500 is a lot of money to us. If we buy a house, would it be feasible? We could do it, but what would we be giving up?
And should I feel guilty if I choose something – anything! – over higher priced (possibly better, but who really knows?) care for my son? (I do).
And then your brain really spins out of control: How will we ever afford activities for this child? For any future children? Will we get on a plane ever again when we’re paying for three or four plane tickets? Gawd!
Take a breath.
Dan and I like our jobs. We made conscious decisions to work for the places that we work. And we like the work that we do.
Cross that bridge when you get to it. You are ok. Remember those jeans you bought? You can make it happen. (I keep telling myself.)
And: If only wine, beer, cheese and books cost a little less in this country. It’d be so much easier.