So I returned to work last Thursday. I was already apprehensive about the transition, so when James had a growth-spurt-related fussy night on Wednesday, leaving me with even less than my usual lack of sleep, I was even more emotional about leaving him. Granted, he’s now at home with daddy, and having no major disruption to his schedule other than eating expressed milk from bottles (and he’s such a voracious eater that we believe he would happily feed from an old shoe if that was the only option), but I still felt like his entire existence was somehow threatened by me not being there to hold him if he needed it.
I gave myself way too much time with my morning routine, so had plenty of extra minutes to anxiously hover over my sweet sleeping boy before I left, which only managed to get me more teary-eyed as I stumbled out into the (record) cold. The drive to work was especially lonely: Every fiber of my being felt like turning around, but I gritted my teeth and cranked the radio. Tom Petty came through the speakers…
People come, people go
Some grow young, some grow cold
I woke up in between
A memory and a dream
…Let’s head on down the road
There’s somewhere I gotta go
And you don’t know how it feels
You don’t know how it feels to be me
And that’s truly how I felt…like no one else in the history of the world understood what I was feeling at that exact moment: Overflowing with feelings of sadness and guilt, but also excitement at returning to my much-missed job. Knowing that I didn’t want to be a stay-at-home-mom, but dreading the day ahead at work as the longest I would be separated from my little guy since he was born. It was a bit of an emotional roller coaster to say the least.
Because of all the extra time I’d given to myself, I arrived 15 minutes early (and about 45 minutes before anyone else showed up) so I had plenty of time to slowly get myself organized, while sorrowfully moping at my 500 iPhone photos of James’ smiling face. But as the day went on, and the usual hum of the office was in full swing, I became so distracted by my millions of projects and to-dos that I started to feel like my old self again. The encouraging words of my working-mama friends on Facebook didn’t hurt either:
“You will survive Mama! Not gonna lie…the first few days back were rough but it gets easier. Pumping breaks at work were (and still are) a great time to look at pictures…and reconnect. Coming home to that sweet face every night is the best feeling in the world. Also – you will no longer mind multiple late night nursing sessions because it gives you more chances to snuggle.”
“It makes coming home so much sweeter. I fill my workspace with [my baby’s] photos.”
“Put up pictures and know James and Daddy are doing just fine together at home “
“Knowing and trusting who your baby is with definitely helps!”
And probably the best insight of them all:
“It’s harder on you than on him”
That last piece of wisdom really helped me muscle through – and then it was confirmed once I got home and saw how absolutely fine, and completely unaffected, James was in Butch’s arms as I walked through the door. Of course, I dropped everything to immediately cuddle and feed him, and cuddle some more!
The second day was much, much easier, and then I had the whole weekend to feed and cuddle…and change dirty diapers…and to be reminded how much I need both a home and personal life to feel complete. Of course, this is before I’ve experience a whole work-week away from my little man, and before I’ve handed him off to day-care come April, but for now I once again feel confident in the decisions that I made to return to work full-time.
I’m interested to hear others’ point of views – what did or didn’t work for you with returning to work (or staying at home) with your kids?