It’s been ages since my last post. This has mainly been due to the following reasons; teething, colds, more relentless sodding teething, and me having a mini breakdown about returning to work. I have decided to tackle the latter of these subjects for this post, because quite frankly teething is doing my bloody head in, and I’m not willing to give it any more of my time.
Husband has been asking me for weeks how I’m feeling about going back to work- he’s ridiculously supportive like that (and in return, I systematically bollock him for leaving things around the house). Up until this weekend, the response (which I whole heartedly believed) was “Yeah, OK actually, might be nice to do something different with my brain. And it’s not like I’ll never see her.” But then, this weekend with only 6 weeks to go until D-Day, a freight train of emotion suddenly hit me. “I’LL NEVER SEE HER!” I wailed, big fat tears plopping off my face and snot going everywhere (I’m an ugly crier). Husband tried to remind me that I’m only starting at 3 days a week, so although I won’t be home by bed time on those days, I’ll still have 4 days a week with her. It made no difference. I was inconsolable. I suddenly felt very panicked about the whole thing.
What had caused this sudden meltdown? Well, on reflection, It was a mix of two things;
Firstly, and most obviously, missing the little person I’ve spent a year getting to know (in spite of the sleep-gate saga) who has, up until now, depended on me for her day-to-day needs (apart from the weekends when Husband takes the lead). Don’t get me wrong, it ain’t all a bed of roses, as this blog quite clearly documents. There are days where I want to cry from frustration at her inability to sleep, or bang my head against the wall as she kicks her feet into a full turd during a nappy change. But she’s my little maniac, and I’m completely besotted with her. From June onwards, she’s going to be spending the majority of the working week with other people (we’re incredibly lucky that this will be her grandmas who are providing childcare- I know, I know! We really are blessed). And whilst I am eternally grateful, and know she will build amazing bonds with them the likes of which many kids will never know, I’m jealous. It’s the ugliest of emotions, but I really am. Jealous that they may be the ones who see her first steps, or hear her first word rather than me. Jealous that they get to see her learn how to do something for the first time, and chuckle at her earnest little face as she trumps. This is the selfish, horrid part of me that I need to overhaul, but it’s a part of me all the same. It’s an adjustment I’m going to have to make, but it does add to my sadness about the whole thing. I’m also terrified she’s going to forget that I’m her mum. I’m scared I’ll just become a ‘caregiver’, without a special place in her heart. That I’ll blend into the background.
The second is feeling completely intimidated about returning to the workplace. For the record, I appreciate how lucky I have been to be able to spend so much of my baby’s first year of life by her side. I really do. I know a lot of parents don’t get the opportunity to do this. However, it has conditioned me to being so used to Pickle’s company that I’m not completely sure I know how to be a proper adult in society any more. I’m going to be in a world where I have to engage in meaningful conversation rather than making idiotic faces or blowing raspberries when the other party loses interest. Where I can’t congratulate every small ‘Pickle- Shaped- Triumph’ such as a successful nap with a piece of cake. And a world where my boobs are NOT going to be able to solve every problem I find myself faced with. It’s also a place where people aren’t going to care that I only got 4 hours sleep the night before, and that’s why I’m running behind. It was, after all, my choice to have a baby. Whereas now I get sympathetic smiles from people as they notice the bags under my eyes and double shot cappuccino in my hand, in the real world I’m simply going to have to suck it up, Princess. But what if I’m too tried to suck up my own tiredness?! What then?
I’m also worried that I’ve lost my ‘grown up world’ coping strategies. The situations I’ve had to deal with day-to-day in the last year have been completely different to those of the workplace, and largely featured bodily fluids. These have often had me in tears hiding in the toilet, and I’m pretty sure that’s not going to look good on my 6 month appraisal.
On top of this, I suppose the fact that I almost put the dog in the fridge a month or two ago instead of letting him out the back door (in my defence he IS a very small dog) makes me a little worried that I have irreversible Baby Brain that may render me incapable of actually DOING my job anymore. I remember a friend telling me that when he returned to work after paternity leave that he felt like a crappy father and a crappy worker- that he never felt he had the time to do either role justice. So that’s another consideration to contend with.
I explained all this to Husband. His response was simple; Just take it a step at a time. Hour by hour and day by day. Pickle isn’t going to forget me or who I am if I miss bath time a couple of times a week- the bond we’ve already built is too strong for that. He also pointed out that because my time with her will be more limited, it will feel more precious and special too. And he knew this. Because he’d already been through this transition 11 months ago. I was being coached by a pro. Because if there is anyone who has juggled returning to work and maintaining a fun and loving relationship with their child, whilst supporting their neurotic partner, it’s him. So, I’m just going to follow his lead…. and learn to cry quietly in the toilets.