Every time I’ve started a new job or assignment in my professional life, I’ve had to talk myself down from ledges early on, calmly rationalizing to the perfectionist part of my brain that no one is perfect at a new job/task/assignment on the first day. Probably even the second day. So a little slack and a lot of patience would probably go a long way in guaranteeing success .. and my ability to stay out of a padded room.
I think parenthood is much like that. The first few weeks, I remember thinking, God, I suck at this and I don’t know how Tony’s not ruined, but I’m SURELY screwing this newer model up and WHY DID I HAVE ANOTHER KID and other such things. I think there’s a reason I can’t remember the early, early newborn weeks with Tony and that’s because, as a kindness, our brains erase the really terrible parts so that we might continue procreating.
(HA HA, KIND BRAIN, JOKE’S ON YOU. THIS FACTORY IS SHUT DOWN. THE SUPPLY CHAIN IS GOING COLLLLLD.)
But now, five weeks in, I don’t feel so overwhelmed. While saying we have a “routine” is probably a stretch, I’m much more relaxed with whatever the day brings. I’m actually enjoying it now, believe it or not. I’ve relaxed enough to nap on occasion, and I’m learning how to balance housework with babywork and time for me. (I actually am not good at the last part, but I’m still learning.)
Of course, since I’m finally feeling comfortable in my new role, IT’S TIME TO GO BACK TO WORK.
I know I’ve said (more than a few times) that I was ready to get back to work and be a grown-up. And that’s true. I have the privilege of loving my job and what I do, and I realize how rare that makes my existence. I miss my coworkers, I miss the adrenaline and deadlines, and I miss having something substantial to talk about. (Right now, my conversations revolve around bowel movements and feeding schedules, and then I fall eerily quiet.) I really am looking forward to getting back to what is a defined, comfortable space for me.
I have high, high, HIGH anxiety about other parts of my returning to work. And since this blog serves as my therapist, let me make myself comfortable on this here couch and share them with you.
I’m busy. Although – obviously – my work would never force something on me if I said it was a difficulty for my family, my work schedule as I left it was a hard one. I was at work most mornings by 6:45 a.m. and rarely left before 5:00 p.m. Now, again, I could raise my hand and say This won’t work anymore and maybe that’s what’ll happen. But most likely not. See, I chose this. Loving what you do sometimes means that you spend long hours doing it. But the reality is that this means Bryan will have THREE CHILDREN to get ready for school. And after a month, none of them will actually attend the same school. (Downside of having children spaced out as we do.) So I don’t know the right answer here. Cue anxiety.
I’m fat. This sounds like a silly thing to fret about, doesn’t it? I KNOW, IT TOTALLY DOES. And while, sure, my personal demons are tormenting me all the time, the larger issue at hand is that I have nothing to wear. Seriously. Although it’s slowly coming off, I’m still needing to shed about 35 baby pounds. You can’t just coerce those pounds to fit into what I was wearing before pregnancy. Luckily, my employer is health-focused, and my new office building has a fitness center. (And five flights of stairs to my office.) I also signed up for the next 5K training class, which is a 2x/week class. So I have a path. But day one? Will totally be sporting maternity clothes. Cue anxiety.
I’m emotional. The biggest struggle for me, as a woman, is not being emotional at work. Empathetic, sure. Compassionate, yes. But emotional? Rarely. The last time I cried at work was when a coworker showed me a video of a soldier surprising his family with his unexpected return. (THANKS, PATRICK.) But I’m still sweating out the hormones over here, and I tend to blubber a bit. Over STUPID stuff. (Today, I cried at The People’s Court because a woman’s iPod was ruined and it had her wedding song on it.) Cue anxiety.
I’m new. While I’ve actually been on this program since Tony was five months old, I’ve been gone for six weeks. Which, coincidentally, began the day after our new program director came on-board. So I have NO idea what’s been going on over there. I’m walking into a potentially new program, overhauled in my absence. I’m usually a quick learner (she repeats to herself to calm her nerves), so I’m sure it’s not long before I fall into a rhythm. BUT WHAT IF I DON’T? WHAT IF I DON’T HAVE A PLACE ANYMORE? Cue anxiety.
Disclaimer: I am incredibly fortunate to 1) have a job that offers 2) paid maternity leave and is 3) not affected by furlough. I am aware of these points, so no need to make them in the comment section.
All in all, the bottom line is this: a week from today, I’ll scan my badge and find my desk again. I’ll be lost for a little while, but I’ll muddle through it. I’ll figure it out because that’s the only answer. And I promise: I WILL NEVER TAKE MATERNITY LEAVE AGAIN.
Gratuitous baby pics: