In a week, the baby turns four months. And I return to work full time.
I already have a lot of anxiety about this change, which surprises me because I’m not usually a person who’s rattled by these sorts of planned things. I attribute this resilience, if you can call it that, to the go-between lifestyle I lived with my divorced parents.
Mom’s house during the week. Dad’s house every other weekend. It was no big deal. It just was. So, I made the best of it because I didn’t know any other way. In turn, it prepared me for missing people.
Plus, this isn’t my first time returning to the office after maternity leave. When the Little Dude was six months, I resumed lawyering but it didn’t hit me this hard even though I loved being with him just the same. Thinking about why, all I can come up with is that my separation anxiety didn’t immediately register since I didn’t yet know what I was going to miss as a first-timer. I’d been an attorney for a few years, but a parent only for months. My identity probably was more closely tied to my work, while I was still learning to be comfortable as a mom.
Now with four-plus years of parenting under my belt and knowing how quickly the tiny beloved moments pass, I’m not ready.
I’ve followed the universal advice from friends with kids and truly enjoyed the baby stage with Little Dude #2 since it’s so fleeting. I’ve found I’m even more relaxed as a parent and love everything from the diaper changes to the middle-of-the-night feedings that make me look and feel like a zombie (sometimes) to doing nothing together. The latter, of course, is my favorite. This is when we sit, looking at one another. I study his small hands and folds around his wrist. I smile. He smiles. He coos. We chat. We laugh. There are dimples to adore! I am not preoccupied with getting him on the “right” nap schedule, making sure he is getting enough milk every two to three hours, or enrolling in classes for our enrichment and sanity. We just hang and it’s the best.
These mixed feelings are far from unique; in fact, they’re so normal that they're cliché. Moms and dads across the globe say goodbye to those sweet cheeks in the morning, go to work, and run back through the door to embrace the chaos that is home, that they love. In many ways, our little ones make us tick, inspiring us to make a difference in our jobs and encouraging us to be über productive so we don’t miss anything more upon our return.
And, like many of us, I want to enjoy the best of both worlds. I want to work and be good at what I do. I want to be a mom and be good at what I do. I know I’ll figure it out and find my footing as we establish new rhythm for our family routine. But in the meantime, I wish I could hit a pause button so I don’t miss things at work and I don’t miss things at home.
~ The Other Sarah