So, I'm back at work. And it's going OK. It's a time of transition, which I knew it would be, but expecting it and living through it are very different. In some ways it's harder than I anticipated and in others easier.
I thought that because I love my job and because I feel so good about the care Dashiell will get when I'm at work (for now he's with Chris all day and soon he'll be at the great daycare we've found) that going back to work wouldn't be so bad. And I guess it's not SO bad. I'm not sad all day long and I don't have tearful goodbyes in the mornings. While I'm at work I enjoy what I'm doing and feel excited about my career. But it's still much harder to apart from Dashiell than I anticipated.
Before Dashiell was born I loved him. So so much. But it doesn't compare at all to the love that I have for him now that he's here and I can really know him. I knew I would love him but I didn't know it would be so deep that I can feel it physically. Or maybe it's that before he was always with me and as safe as he could be. And now he's out in the world, which is a scary place, and I'm very aware that I cannot always be with him and protect him. He is my heart outside my body. It makes me feel so vulnerable sometimes, especially now that I spend more time away from him.
Did you read the book The Golden Compass? In the book the spirit or soul of each person is an animal and it lives with them like a pet. It's physically painful for a person and their spirit animal to be separated by more than a couple of feet because they are so strongly bound together. Dashiell is my spirit animal. When we're apart I feel that longing for him and when I'm with him I feel complete.
I thought that getting home from work would be the easiest part of the day. And it is exciting every day to come home and see my baby; I look forward to it all day. But then I feel sad when I realize I've missed spending the day with him. And some evenings the worry and the doubt creep in and I turn the situation over and over again in my head. There's no easy or right solution to it. If I want to work, and I really do enjoy working outside the home for many reasons, then I have to be away from Dashiell. I actually don't think I'd want to stay home with him full time. I love the challenge and sense of accomplishment that my job offers. But at the same time I wish I could be his primary care giver. It's frustrating to have such conflicting feelings!
A few things are helping. I'm working just six hours at the office and two additional hours at home so my days aren't too long. I get to work this schedule for another three weeks. I really wish I could continue some type of flex schedule after that but we'll see. It's also been so important to connect with other working moms who know exactly what I'm going through. I was having a tough week my second week back and after calling a friend on the way home I felt immensely better. And of course knowing that Dashiell is with Chris all day, and getting pictures and texts throughout the day, helps so much.
I'm also lucky that at work there's a group called the Working Parents' Network and they have monthly lunch-time meetings. There was a meeting my second week of work and talking with other parents (they were all moms this month) who work for the same organization was comforting and buoyed my spirits.
Right now I'm focusing on one day at a time and celebrate a small victory on the days when I feel happier. I'm appreciating that I enjoy my job so much that it would be very hard for me to leave it and that even though I spend time away from him I get to come home to Dashiell every day and that is the best.