Monday, September 6, 2010

At the Precipice

I go back to work tomorrow- or at least I'm supposed to. Landon came home with a cold and cough last week, the first time he's gotten sick in nearly 2 years (a treat from his new daycare class I suppose) and now I have it. Do you think anyone will believe me if I call in sick for my first day back? Anyway, as I sit on the couch, trying not to cough on Claire, I'm assuming this will be the last day for a long time that work and my blackberry can't touch me.

And I'm really quite sad about it. Not so much sad to go back to work, parts of me are happy about that, but sad that these unbelievably wonderful months at home have come to an end. Because they have been perfect in their escape from the realities of being a working mom while not yet reaching the realities of being a stay-home mom. For three months I still got to enjoy the benefits of working- a full pay check, our twice monthly maid, Landon's daycare, colleagues who keep me in work gossip and take me to lunch, while hanging out at home, usually in my pj's, watching HGTV and The West Wing reruns with my beautiful daughter. It's been amazing. As I've mentioned, Landon continued to go to daycare every day because (1) we'd have to pay to keep his spot anyway, so he might as well use it, and (2) he loves it and I think it did the most in keeping his life normal after the addition of our new baby. In the first few weeks after I had Claire I didn't leave the couch much- I was tired and healing and I think Landon would have been bored and frustrated that mommy was no fun and always holding the baby. Instead, he kept his routine, played with his friends, and then came home each day delighted to see his sister again. And for those hours in the afternoon and evening I could be up and about, reading books and snuggling with my little boy. It's worked out really well and I will miss it.

I know, really know, that once I get back to work and life goes on like it always does, everything will be fine. We have our routine, we have an amazing daycare just up the road that Claire already has been successfully attending for two weeks (her teachers adore her), and JP has a super flexible work-from-home schedule that allows him to pick up the kids every day. I will get back in the grind and I will find myself loving it once again. It's just that sitting here on the outside of it all, it's a little sad and scary to jump back in. Work represents such a decrease in control over my life. Right now the only thing that messes with our plans is us. But tomorrow I return to a world where an email can interfere with a weekend and a crappy assignment can affect your mood and I have this slightly desperate desire to just to hold it all away from me. If I could guarantee that I'd never miss a family dinner or never cancel a family plan, I don't think I'd have much of any problem returning. I am fundamentally okay with spending time away from my children and sharing them with their daycare teachers. But I can't guarantee that the balance between my role as attorney and mother will always be maintained the way that I need it to, and that is what makes me feel like I'm about to jump off a cliff.

In my calmer moments, I know that I work with great people- that despite some very busy months last year I was always able to maintain my line between work and family time. I know that the idea of losing control is much scarier than actually losing it because in reality work pretty rarely messed with the things I wanted to do. I know that I was a happy working mom three months ago. I know that I will be one again after tomorrow. It's just that right now, on the precipice of going back, I want to stay on this side of the cliff for a little while longer.

(Also, this huge happy baby got herself baptized this weekend, story and pics to come)


  1. hope the transition back to work is a smooth one for the whole family!

  2. If I could possibly have afforded it (maybe with our third kid! but right now we are two grad students, with the corresponding poverty . . .) I would have sent my toddler to daycare in my first postpartum months, too. At least part time. I could not meet his needs, so he was just bored and all up in my business, and that made me miserable because I couldn't focus on either of my kids as much as I preferred. They both did fine, but I hated my leave until just about the week before it ended, when the baby was finally a bit more under control and less needy. Sigh.

  3. I feel the same way every summer because I am not in a tenure-track job and spend my summers lolling at the pool with my kids instead of slaving over my research.

    But every fall, I love jumping back in.

    You seem to be the most successful work/family balancer of anyone I know/read, so take a few more deep breaths on the couch and have a lovely time getting in touch with your old self tomorrow.

  4. Good luck tomorrow (if you are well enough)! It seems completely normal for you to be feeling this way. I have no kids and I am feeling the same way just after a week's vacation!

  5. I'm starting a new job tomorrow after being home for the last 15 months with our toddler son. I've been going through my checklists (all the stuff for the baby going to daycare) and making sure my professional clothing fits. I'm actually pretty excited about jumping back into working life, but I have enjoyed this summer so very much with the one-year-old. I certainly understand about being bittersweet about all the family time ending. I hope that your re-acclimation goes as smooth as possible!

  6. Good luck today and feel better. I can't believe your leave is over. That means that mine is close to winding down too. :(

  7. That is pretty much exactly how I feel about starting work, except that for me it will all be new rather than returning to something I know and love. I'm sure you will be back in the swing of things very soon. How perfect for this transition that JP has such a flexible schedule!

  8. good luck starting back!

    i'm not a mom yet, but you described exactly why i don't think i'll be able to continue working at my firm after having children. while your co-workers/partners seem very reasonable and flexible, mine are not.

    the mom-associates are continually scrambling for babysitters and being forced to sit at the office until midnight to do things like accept redline edits before a filing. you NEVER, repeat NEVER, know if you will lose your weekend. it's sad, really. it sounds like you have a really, really great job though!