Tuesday, July 19, 2011

on going back to work

In two weeks I return to work following a 12 week maternity leave, six of which were paid by my firm - a generous leave, by American standards. I'm lucky enough to be returning four days a week for the first few months. I'm also lucky to be leaving the girls with their grandparents (Mila) and beloved babysitter (Sonia) while I am at work. But, the thought of leaving at all is nearly unbearable, and it takes everything in my power to appreciate every single second of these last few weeks.

My friend, Sara, made the return-to-work journey a few weeks after Mila was born, when her own son was 12 weeks. She prepared me for this feeling. She said how hard it was to live "in the moment" in the weeks, days and hours leading up to the inevitable return to work. And she was right. Oh so terribly right. It is harder than I anticipated.

I'm not worried about Mila. I know she is in good hands. I know she'll take a bottle, she'll nap, she'll smile her sly little smile. I'm worried about me. I don't want to miss a second with these girls. I don't want to miss nursing Mila, and wearing her in the front pack and bouncing her to sleep and seeing her smile. I want to be the one to be there. She's been a part of me for almost an entire year and I'm not ready to leave her for nine hours a day. I don't want to return to the fast-pace life of a working mother. Rushing to get ready and out the door, rushing at work to pump, and to finish everything by the stroke of five so I can rush to pick up the girls and rush home to make dinner and rush into baths and bed and sleep. Rush, rush, rush. Entire weeks pass by that I can't even remember, which I guess is a blessing since I'm always rushing toward the weekend so we can slow down and enjoy life for a few moments before the rush starts all over again. All that rushing and one day you wake up and your kid is four and if it wasn't for the photos spanning the four years, you would swear it isn't possible.

I know that my return to work is the best thing for our family, but that doesn't make it any easier. I know that I'll get used to leaving Mila. And to be honest, there are some things I'm looking forward to. But I don't want this summer to end. I don't want August to come. I can't believe we live in a society that puts such a low value on parenting that parents are sent back to work with a pat on the back only a few weeks and/or months after a new baby is born.

I am so terribly heartbroken right now. I am so sad and angry and confused. I am not centered. I am not confident. I am not sure. I am trying my hardest to remain in the moment. To soak it all in. One day at a time.

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