The first days after my son was born, we were in survival mode… each day that ended with all three of alive, we counted as a win. By that measure, at least, we were undefeated. As we became more experienced and comfortable in our new role as parents, we began to set the bar higher and enjoy the journey more and more. Then last Friday, I counted the three of us, sighed and informed my husband that we had all survived my first full week back to work. We had regressed to where we were over a year ago. But, I still count it as a win and my son is this week’s MVP. He started day-care like a champ. The very first day, he walked right in, went over to one of the other boys and gave him a big hug. He quickly adjusted to the new morning routine and greeted me every afternoon with a smile. We are also very fortunate to have an incredible network of family and friends providing both practical assistance and emotional support along the way. Parenting is a team sport, and looking at our roster, I think it is going to be a good season.
Today I am feeling more than a little overwhelmed… overwhelmed by the scope of my job – large caseload across 3 buildings, by the pile of house work that continues to amass- now that no one is here to chip away at it during the day, by a suddenly busy social calendar – full of the event’s I’ve scheduled to make our increasingly limited family time count, but most of all I am overwhelmed with emotions as I prepare to send my son off to his first day of daycare – sadness, guilt, anxiety, and perhaps even a little excitement on his behalf. There are more tasks to cross off the list than I can count, much less accomplish, and a constant stream of thoughts racing through my mind. It’s hard to know where to start and what to do next. Dory, the blue fish from Finding Nemo, would advise me to, “keep swimming,” and she is right, I must keep swimming, keep on plowing through, moving from one thing to the next. “Just keep swimming.”
When it’s time to remove a bandage it is best to do so quickly. I think this same theory may apply to going back to work after having a baby… a lesson I am learning the hard way. A little background information: I am an occupational therapist, practicing in the school setting. In May of 2009, on the Friday before my wedding I was notified that I would be laid off from a job I LOVED. (I owe a special thank-you to my compassionate co-workers who ensured I never saw that notification until the following week.) 5 months later we found out we were expecting and couldn’t be happier. While I missed working, and the paycheck it provided, morning sickness and a high-risk pregnancy made me grateful for the time away. I continued to look for work and in May of 2010, two months before my due date, I was offered a (very) part time position. I was happy to be able to earn some money before the baby came, and the flexible schedule meant I could still keep my OB appointments. Plus being a bit busier seemed to help the time pass more quickly. Then on July 7, 2010 my precious baby boy was born, and since I worked in a school we had 8 wonderful weeks of summer vacation to spend together, bonding, snuggling, napping…… then September rolled around, and it was time to return to my part time position. So I began peeling off the bandage, VERY slowly. At first, my schedule was very light and while I missed my little guy, I was home in a few hours. Plus my dad was available to babysit and I enjoyed seeing their relationship flourish. Over the next few months, my schedule picked up and I had more and more work to do at home. Every time I said, “I know baby, Mommy just needs 5 more minutes,” it broke my heart a little. Then, mercifully, the end of June arrived!I had slowly peeled back that bandage, right up to the scab, and summer vacation allowed me a break, to take a deep breath. But now September has arrived, time for one last quick pull, and I know it’s going to hurt. It is time to go back to work full-time. No days off during the week, no short days, a real full-fledged work week. Oh, and no more grandpa-care either - real daycare for my little man. It will be a very difficult transition, for all of us. This blog will chronicle the ensuing the ups and downs, as I attempt to embrace this new role of a “working mom.” I invite you to follow along on the journey, and hope that the lessons I expect to learn along the way might be helpful to other moms. Tips, suggestions and advice are warmly welcomed.