Working mum of three

Figuring it out as we go along. Blogging is cheaper than therapy.

Worry while you work

on February 5, 2014

The day I figured out how to butter bread with one hand changed my life. I was no longer slave to my tiny captor. I had independence, accomplishment and most importantly, I had toast. There was a glimmer of light at the end of the haze. And as the sleepless smog cleared, the deadline of getting back to work loomed large on the horizon. So I have been trying to wean myself off my baby, and like any addiction, there have been highs, lows and overdoses.

The kid is a handful. He wants to be carried all the time. Or fed. He sleeps lightly and wakes often. He only has eyes for his mamma which is as delightful as it is punishing. He is master in the dark art of bottle avoidance and a black belt in solid food flicking. My lovingly prepared portions of puréed apples, sweet potatoes and apricots lay abandoned in miniature pots like islands of failure at the end of each day. I’ve worked harder and achieved less than ever before. I stew over every new nugget of advice I receive in the playground and angst over each decision. This is the bit when we try to rationalise with a baby. We expect him to understand that actually breast isn’t best anymore and that he better bloody well chose a bottle or food or he’s going to be a bit hungry. I withhold my milk and we battle, thrashing and crying for hours each day. Then we struggle at night while the hungry child wakes. Our range of bottles, cups, formulas grows with every trip to the shops. I try to get into his psychology, but the simple truth is that he just doesn’t know any different.

From nowhere, we share a moment of joy, he laughs at something or grabs for a toy. He chuckles heartily when I tickle him. He learns new skills before my eyes. The sleepless, unwashed, unhinged moments melt away. Nothing else matters. I am hypnotised by his dark eyes and suddenly drown in a flood of emotion as I contemplate his transition to nursery. What a shock it is going to come to this little mite who has been so close to me his whole life. So the excitement I feel about going back to work is thoroughly undermined by the thought of my tiny baby coming to terms with what will feel like loss and abandonment as he heads off into daycare.

Heading back to work is daunting enough. I have been away for a lifetime after all. My team has changed, the work load is steep, the expectations are high. The last month of maternity leave is the worst. There is so much the play for: anxiety of getting back to work (will I be any good? Will I be able to leave on time? Will they treat me differently? Can I still type?), the physical and emotional juggernaut of leaving the baby (Will I cry when someone asks how my baby is? will I start doing baby talk in a meeting? Will my breasts calm the hell down before Monday morning?), the actual handing over of baby (will he be ok? Will they know what to do when he cries? Will he ever forgive me?). Add to this a large dollop of refusal-to-wean, some guilt sprinkles, a 7 month scoop of sleepless nights and you have yourself a knicker-bocker-head-fuck.

All this is from a woman who has done this twice before and survived. It can be done. Yes, it’ll be a bumpy few months as the whole family adjusts again to this new phase. We’ve been spoilt over this period with a full time ‘home maker’ (though our home is still in constant chaos). I’ve had time to run kids to discos, gymnastics, parties. I’ve made cakes and costumes. I’ve missed countless hours of sleep and nursed sick children. Now I just have to fit work back in to the fray. I will miss the school pick up, which has become one of my loveliest parts of the day and coaxing information out of the boys is my favourite sport. Their inquisitive minds and flourishing personalities are such a treat. We will have to develop new rituals now because this is the beginning of baby’s independence. His first steps into the world before he can even crawl. Here we go on another stage. The making of little people and the teaching of values by doing. This is all part of it. Bloody parenting, I love it.

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