Tiny Baby, Tiny Apartment (Part 5): Going Back to Work Sucks Balls
You just had a baby and you’re cruising through maternity leave. Five minutes ago your baby was a newborn — a cozy little blob of goo who slept peacefully on your chest between feedings. Now she yells and laughs, she kicks you and yanks your hair. She faces out in the Bjorn. She wears boots, for Christ’s sake. She’s a tiny lady, and she’s amazing. Everything’s finally falling into place.
Except that it’s not, and you know it. That old panicky feeling is starting to come around again. You try to brush it off, but anxiety won’t be ignored. Anxiety waits patiently and leaks out at inappropriate times. Like that time you got drunk and decided to dispute your cable bill, but instead ended up verbally abusing Dustin, the Indian customer service representative.
That was a while ago. You’re an adult now. You handle shit. You face facts. And the fact is, whether you like it or not, your maternity leave is almost over.
You’ve been off work for a while now. And yes, it was tough at first. But now you’re crushing it. You get the shopping done, and even the laundry. It’s shocking how quickly you took to domestic life. A life which, for the record, is so not you. You were raised by feminists. Your mother was a badass bitch in shoulder pads and power suits in the ’80s. She went back to work, and you always knew you’d do the same. Until now.
Now things aren’t so black and white.
On the one hand, you kind of miss work. You miss talking to adults about adult things. Right now, your entire world revolves around Sophie the Giraffe and Goodnight Moon. And that’s fine. But you wouldn’t mind feeling valued on a professional level again. Besides, you want to be a positive female role model for your kid. You are a strong, successful woman who takes life by the balls. Also, you need the money.
On the other hand, childcare sounds like the most expensive nightmare of all time. And it involves leaving your baby with a stranger. Which you are absolutely not interested in doing. As needy as your baby is, you are needier. You want to be with your baby all day, every day. You created her, you built her from scratch, and you want to see this one through, on your own terms. Carol Brady had the right idea. Get yourself some cute aprons and a tennis racket. You’re seriously considering the housewife track.
You’ve never been so on the fence about anything in your life. You sleep on it, hoping that helps. It doesn’t.
That’s because there is no right answer. All you can do is follow your gut, which is something that can be especially difficult for new moms. Mostly because our guts are tricked by our hormones. “Stay at home forever.”, the hormones whisper.
“Breast feed until he’s 14.”
Hormones are a mother fucker. But somehow you have to filter out the crazy from the truth.
I went back to work two weeks ago. And yeah, it sucked balls. But the anticipation of going back to work was much harder than actually being back at work. Once you get over the hump and get into a groove, the rest falls into place. You get used to it. Because you have to.
Still kinda sucks balls, though.
This five-part series is dedicated to my mother, who told me that raising kids is a lifelong exercise in letting go.