One thing I have always loved about living here is how people are referred to as “joiners” or “leavers” depending on whether they are coming or going into the workplace. I was a “new joiner” once (sounds like a sorority or a plumbing part, right?). And then I was a mat leaver. And now I am a rejoiner. Today.
My brain has an amazing ability to curb all drama just when I think it might consume me. So needless to say I was rather relaxed the past few days. I mean, I am going back to work. B F D.
In my mind I always carved out Sunday, yesterday, as total Jonah and mommy zone. In my imaginings of it, we would sit on the floor morning through night, building towers, reading books, singing duets, examining wheels and musical instruments and laughing at all my impressions of sneezing. I shunned social plans and woke up early.
The day started well enough. Early morning playtime and then after a snooze, Bryan and Jonah woke me up with a gift of a mug with pictures of Jonah all over it. I honestly might become a coffee drinker just so I can have that thing permanently attached to my lips. But then my maker had other plans.
Jonah had a fever and our hot water heater/boiler (are they the same? I have no idea) broke. So my day was instead spend devising potential scenarios of showering before my First Day Back At Work (friends live nearby, the hotel we called is too expensive), trying to imagine how we can host my dad and stepmom for 12 days starting on Wednesday, and carrying around a feverish, crying, vomiting, incredibly sad baby who wanted to be attached to me (but not in a happy way).
I thought I might cry yesterday because I knew I was going back to work. I cried for a totally other reason. I now see how heartbreaking it is to see your child sick. How can I send my child to daycare with a fever? How can I call in sick my first day? Is this why people live near their families? Apparently I am being dropped directly into the fire of Working Mom 101. (It wasn’t so bad this morning- just had to boil water to wash my hair. Hmm)
The good news, if I can even spin this whole thing, is that I didn’t have a lot of time to brood my imminent Monday morning. And yet, other people did that for me.
I don’t give a lot of shout outs on this blog, because if I mentioned every kind, thoughtful, funny, uplifting, helpful, beautiful things the people in my life said/ did/ surprised me with/ cautioned/ commented/ cared/ sent/ left/ braved (Meredith just sent me two magazines with The Bachelor on the cover, love it love it love it), well then that’s all this blog would be. And frankly, how then would I get all those hits from the search term “spaghetti”?
But here’s a shout out. Not for any other reason than it’s timely and topical and well, that just seems like a fair way to randomly give a shout out. I got a long email from Virginia yesterday evening. Virginia (friend from college) has an uncanny ability to know when I need to hear something, and it doesn’t matter if we haven’t spoken in weeks or months or seen each in almost a year. She just sort of pops up at the right time, in the right place- like the #18 bus on Marylebone Road. She’s the kind of friend that might get you an ice pack for your sore bits before you go into labor, and might still buy you a birthday present even past the age of 30.
She emailed me this, in part, as my Sunday night came to a close:
Just wanted to drop you a note to tell you I’m thinking of you today! I obviously don’t know what you are thinking and feeling right now but I can imagine that you are filled with mixed feelings in terms of going back to work tomorrow. It is hard, it is really really hard–and the first “year” back it really takes a while to find a balance–between having enough time for your family, to be successful and focused on your work and also finding time just for you! I’m still working on a time warp in fact. I’ll let you know if I ever create one.
I cried probably several times when I first went back to work–particularly with L because by the time I had to do it with C I was much more secure in my place as a full time working mother and much more laid back in terms of realizing how durable and resilient babies/kids really are–and the first one seemed to be turning out ok. But going back with L really brought up some insecurities and at the same time forced me to trust other people with my child… I think that my having a successful career provides my children with a good role model as well which to me is important. I have learned that there are so many different stages that kids go through that the one true and steady thing in their lives is parental care and nothing nor anyone can replace that–and the love and bond between parent and child is unbreakable regardless of whether you are with your child 24/7 or not. All that matters is that you make the best of the time you have. None of us are perfect and I’m quite sure that as good of a job as I think I’m doing with my kids they are still going to grow up with “issues” but I’m doing the best I can to provide for them, to love them the best I know how and raise them to be good human beings who make good choices in life. So in summary…Jonah isn’t going to hate you for leaving him tomorrow in fact he won’t even remember it at a certain point because it will just become part of his new routine, and it’s ok to go back to work–you can be a an awesome mom and an awesome worker bee too all at the same time. It’s ok if your flat isn’t as clean as it was or if you do a little more take out instead of cooking gourmet meals every night–you do what you have to do make it through the week and well you still want to have fun on the weekends.
At any rate, good luck and remember to be kind to yourself emotionally and physically.
I finally cried for the reason I was supposed to.
Anyway, there are good things about work, right?
Like my old friend. Some things haven’t changed.