So I have a bit of a confession to make.
Before the Gadlet was born I got a bit obsessed with a joint-authored parenting blog and I spent quite a bit of time reading all of the posts about lead paint hazards and celebrity births and fun games for toddlers and single parenting and tips for travel. I think I was really trying to figure out beforehand what parenting would be like. (As if one really could?) I was particularly interested in the posts by one author whose baby had been born a few months earlier. I think I figured that her experiences would parallel mine and that I could see what I’d be going through in advance. But this is not my confession. My confession is this: A series of her posts were about how devastating it was to her to go back to work. She wrote about sobbing hysterically because she had to leave her child at daycare and return to her office. When I read this I got all snarky and superior. I mean, come on! Hysterics? The kid was going to be three blocks away from her office. How ridiculous to be so emotional and so obsessed. It’s not like she was leaving her kid forever, she was just going back to work. At a career she chose and liked. Sheesh. And I confess I think I even sent a link to Spousal Unit mocking this woman’s pain.
Yep. Karma’s a bitch.
I spent most of the day on Sunday in hysterical weeping because I have to go back to work next week and leave the Gadlet in Daycare for three days a week. I was snorting, sobbing, and moaning and Spousal Unit was supremely unsympathetic. Didn’t he understand that MILLIONS OF YEARS OF EVOLUTION were telling my in the strongest possible hormonal language NOT TO LEAVE THIS CHILD! Apparently not. Nor did he understand that telling me that I Absolutely Had to Finish My Dissertation RIGHT NOW did not help AT ALL. Although to give him a little credit, reminding me that I actually had something pretty important to do while the Gadlet was in daycare may have seemed like a somewhat reasonable response to my Extreme Reluctance to part with my child. It was not. I would not be appeased. It was a pretty miserable day.
While I know intellectually that the Gadlet will be fine and I know that she’ll really enjoy her new situation (it is at the house of a woman — Darby — with lots of nanny experience and only 1 other kid, her 6-week old little boy) and I know she’ll love Thursdays with Daddy, it still feels really hard to think about this special time we had together coming to an end.
To help myself make this transition and to make next Monday “easier,” I went over to Darby’s yesterday equipped with a box of stuff for the Gadlet to have there, like extra clothes and diapers and stuff. At the suggestion of a friend, I also toted along an extensive typed list of things that Darby may possibly need to know about the Gadlet. This list contained vital, critical things that only her Mama knows and that I was sure Darby could not figure out on her own — things like “she likes to be held upright rather than flat” or “she only poops every 4 days so don’t freak out if she hasn’t pooped.” I carefully detailed her favorite toys and how she likes to roll over and how we’re handling the cloth diapering and when she sleeps each day. Darby very sweetly listened to me yak about this for an hour or so, nodding with great interest. We talked a lot about her baby and mine and what it was like and what she wants to do with the two of them. And then, as I was making a move to leave, she gently asked me to write down who the Gadlet’s pediatrician was and what my emergency contact numbers were.
Yes. I had carefully explained how often the Gadlet needs to excrete but had not written down my cell phone number.
Clearly I do not want to leave this baby.
Last week it also hit me that there were going to be lots of things that I was going to miss. I was thinking that I wouldn’t be around for some really important milestones like rolling over and sitting up on her own and crawling and walking and talking… the list goes on. But as I was sitting there worrying about it as I sent some emails, the the Gadlet, on her play mat beside me, started a strange grunting. So I looked over at her only to find that she was on her belly. Yes, she had rolled over for the first time while I wasn’t looking only moments after I had been worrying about missing her rolling over. I leapt up and grabbed the camera and took this:
I’m sure she rolled over because she was dressed in what I like to call her “My Daddy is a Physicist” shirt. But, anyway, in that moment she taught me a really valuable lesson, that wily little kidlet. I was sitting right there next to her and I missed a major milestone. So maybe going away won’t be all that different. Plus, her milestones are hers, not mine. They’re important to me, sure, but even if I miss the first one, I’ll catch the second:
In addition to the hormonally induced hysteria (H.I.H) and Fear of Missing Something Big (F.M.S.B.) I think I am also really reluctant to end my leave because of what it means for me. Maternity leave has been just great and I think the first six weeks of her life were the happiest of mine. I was the least stressed, the most fulfilled, and the most calm that I’ve ever been. I mean, I didn’t have to worry about anything at that time. I set it all aside to just be with her. I can’t adequately describe what it felt like to put down all of my self-imposed pressure, all of the academic pressure, all of the crap I’ve been carrying around for a decade or so and just Be. Just Live. It was indescribably special. So I guess I’m not only mourning the loss of my uninterrupted time with the Gadlet, I think I’m also mourning the loss of that happy self who didn’t have anything else to worry about except feeding her baby.
But if I’m really honest with myself, I haven’t been that person for a while. (In fact, since November 11. Blogs are great, huh?) And lately, I’ve found myself resenting the Gadlet sometimes when I’m trying to get something done and she wants my attention. And then I resent myself for resenting her. And then I get stressed that I’m not getting anything done
AND I’m not fully being present with the Gadlet and I resent the universe that structured it this way. So maybe it will be a really good thing for me to have some uninterrupted time for my own work and then when I’m with the Gadlet, I’ll really be with her and can enjoy that time because I won’t also be trying to do a million other things.
At least that’s what I’m telling myself today. We’ll see what I tell myself on Monday morning as I walk away from Darby’s house without my baby.
Dreaded Dissertation Update
I’ve spent the last couple of days getting things together that I needed to do to go back to work, so the DD has taken a back seat. But, I’m feeling hopeful that next week’s daycare will buy me more time. The rest of this week will also be consumed with prepping for the semester. (I haven’t even started on my syllabi!!)
The only good news is that I tried on my work clothes yesterday and my pants still fit. Shirts are a different story, but those are easier and cheaper to replace than the Ann Taylor suits. 🙂