A slightly above-average achiever's guide to parenting
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Going Back to Work
November 10, 2016
I feel incredibly lucky to have a job where I got almost 6 months of paid maternity leave. That is (shamefully) unheard of in this country. Not only that, when I came back to work with Chewie the first time, I got to come back at 3 days a week for the first 6 months. That is a rarity that is almost unheard of and for which I am deeply grateful.
All this aside, I still seriously considered quitting my job before I went back to work. And I think almost every working mom thinks about quitting in the same way that every mom generally thinks at least once about leaving their screaming infant, going for a pedicure, and never coming back (and if you say you're haven't, you're lying).
Before I went back to work the first time with Chewie, I opened a draft email to myself and wrote down what my exact thoughts were before going back. They were (in unedited form):
-I hate my job, I love being a mom so much more.
-work is hard
-I hate the idea of sitting behind a desk all day after being able to be in the fresh air and walk all day
-I'm going to miss Chewie so much it hurts.
And then, a week after I had started, I wrote down the following feelings (in unedited form):
-this is not as bad as I thought it was going to be
-having adult time is really pretty nice
-can I just have someone watch chewie but not do work? (if only, right?)
Like so many things with parenting, I found that the anxiety over the change was worse than the actual change itself. The same thing happened when we decided to move Chewie from the Rock and Play to the crib, or when we decided to drop a nap, or switch to daycare. I worried so much about what could happen, but in reality, for the most part it always turned out just fine almost without incident (with the one exception of switching him to the crib and Chewie bounced around like a ping pong ball and kept getting his face stuck in the slats of the crib. That was a less than stellar transition, and turns out BFF is doing the same thing, which is awesome).
A friend of mine told me about going back to work that "it'll be terrible, and then it'll be fine." I didn't know what she meant by it, but having gone through it once, I think I finally understand what she meant. It is terrible to think about the changes that will occur, and the decrease in time you'll have with your child, but then all of a sudden, you're at work, and an entire day goes by, and you run home at the end of it, and get to spend some amazing quality time with your child, and it's all fine. Having gone back to work, and given it a try, I know that for me, I'm a better mom having a few days away from Chewie. I appreciate both him, and my job, more from the absence of the other. The jury is still out on whether I prefer more days with him or more days at the office...but I have a feeling that which I prefer is strongly dependent on how much of a jerk he's decided to be that day. With the threenager years around the corner, we might be looking into extended days.
With BFF's maternity leave about to end in January (I extended it a little longer this time around because of the holidays, and because I now know how much easier and sweeter babies can be instead of toddlers, and I wanted to soak that up), it's been invaluable for me to re-read these notes and feelings. Because even still, knowing all of this, I still think about quitting and staying home full time. That is, unless of course I can figure out how to have someone watch both kids but still not do work. Once we crack that code, I think I'll have it all worked out.