NOTES FROM A WORKING MAMA.

Month One
First day back to my paid job.  Coincidentally, the first day of my 25th year as well.

When I had Finn, I had only been at my part-time job for two and a half months.  This made me ineligible for paid maternity leave for a number of reasons.  I am fortunate enough, however, to have an over-the-top understanding supervisor who is attempting to carve out a reasonable, accommodating, and supportive environment for working mothers.  When I returned to out-of-the-home work, Finn was just a few days shy of four weeks old.  To my surprise, I jumped out of bed the morning of my return, took extra care in dressing up, slathered on a million layers of under eye concealer, and was out the door early for my first day.

One thing motherhood is making me grow accustomed to is being okay with experiencing very strong, completely contradictory feelings simultaneously.  I want to hold Finn, but if I see him right now I’m going to freak out.  I am completely exhausted and yet I’ll beg Justin to let me rock Finn to sleep instead of him.  I’m going to stab pencils into my eardrums if I hear crying once more, but his little whimper is so pitiful and precious.  My first day back to my office job was no different.  Before I walked out the door, I paused to survey my bedroom:  baby sleeping peacefully in his crib, husband curled up, tangled in sheets and pillows, deep in sleep.  It was hard to walk out the door.  I snapped a few pictures of each of them (kind of creepy, yes?), gave them kisses, and went on my way.  I sat in the parking lot in my car for a number of minutes before getting out at my destination.  It felt so strange to be alone, in the quiet, not worrying about someone else, or anything for that matter.  I played music loud and sang along, with no need to listen for stirring from the back seat.  I had been in this same place just a few weeks prior and there I sat as a very changed woman.  I had been through so much, my priorities had completely shifted, and there was no going back.  Without Finn strapped to my chest, nothing marked me as Mother to strangers.  It felt strange to have what had become my world for the last few weeks be completely secret to those around me.  I felt like I should shout to everyone around me:  “I! Am! A new! Mother!!!”

All in all, going back to paid work felt great.  I appreciated the break from my other (much more stressful) job.  It felt nice to have my body to myself for a couple of hours, dressed up in clothing that didn’t have to be conducive to breastfeeding.  I talked (about Finn) to all of my coworkers for way too long.  I buzzed around the office, moving freely, taking care of my various tasks without interruption.  As soon as my work was completed, however, I raced home as quickly as I could.  Of course my baby stayed in the forefront of my mind through it all.  It was hard to believe how the time had flown.  This four hour shift was the longest Finn had ever been away from me in his existence.

The conflict today was between how happy I was to be away from him and how much I missed him all at once.  My experience with feminism had taught me that I shouldn’t feel fulfillment through motherhood, that I shouldn’t be checking the time repeatedly, looking forward to my “second shift” waiting to kiss those little baby cheeks and dedicate the rest of my time pouring myself into this other person.  I recognize that each woman’s experience is unique (my paid labor being low in stress, minimal hours, very supportive of my family, etc.), but mine was that I was loving my new role.  Additionally, I am grateful that I was able to jump back into work when I did.  Reminding myself that I there is still a person inside of me that functions as an individual other than a full-time caretaker feels really good.  I love both of my jobs.

Texts from Papa
I was given lots of updates from a very understanding Papa.

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