I looked ahead to the day like one would look ahead to an appointment with a firing squad. Actually, I ended up being spared a day, because I was called for jury duty on Monday. And I ended up getting excused from jury duty because of having a newborn. So my actual first day back at work wasn't until a Tuesday.
I got up that morning at about 5:00 AM. I was determined that if I was not going to be able to be at home during the day with my new baby, I would for certain make it impossible for him or his father to not feel my presence and my love for them. So when I got up that morning, I cleaned the house, I washed bottles, I did laundry, laid out clothes for the baby, fixed breakfast and lunch and set out and arranged every single, solitary item that they would need throughout the day. I tried to anticipate and prepare for every single thing they would need, every move they would make, every meal, every nap, every activity, every hour, every minute, every second of their day. Wow! What a morning! I don’t think a military General does as much preparation before his troops head off to war as I put into a baby and his daddy being at home for one day!
Finally, when all was in my very own, OCD obsessed order, I got dressed, I kissed and hugged and practically smothered the baby with love, and burst into tears, just as I hit the door. I sobbed, big, huge, gulping sobs the entire way to my office. I felt certain that my baby would forget who I was by 5:30 PM. After weeks of touring the southeastern US, and then weeks at home with me doing not much more than simply holding him warm and close and tight, for hours and hours on end, feeding him, burping him, changing him, cuddling him, loving him to pieces, while outside the world was cold and blustery, how could he not forget me while I went off to earn a living? I hated myself and the economy and the world at large that morning for making it necessary to actually to have to go out and beat down a paycheck. Granted, it was some comfort that his beloved and wonderful father was the one staying at home with him, but I wanted it to be me, too.
My first day back at the office, truth be told, was not that bad. To give my boss some credit, he did not inundate me with old work. It was a very slow, steady, evenly-paced day, and I actually got to leave work on time. It was OK, as far as first days go when you leave your baby at home for the first time. When I got home, I picked him up and sat down in the recliner, and I honestly do not think I moved from that spot until 9:00 PM. I tried to cram about 9 hours of missing him into the few hours until bedtime. In interrogated my husband about the baby’s day as if he were the enemy suspect, and I were an FBI investigator. I asked my husband if he thought Alex would grow up hating me for being a working mom...I know.... a ridiculous question. But my self-pity demanded that I wallow a little more and ask it.
It got better, a little, over time. My daily “morning raid of readiness” continued for about a month, and then exhaustion set in, along with the admission that his father actually could handle the routine of a simple day at home with baby, without my micro-management, so I began sleeping in until about 7AM. But it was several months before I actually could leave the house without crying. I still, to this day, wish I was the one at home with the babies, but that is not how our life panned out. And I am so eternally, entirely grateful that the kids have their father with them every day, instead of a nanny or babysitter. I’m lucky that my husband loves his job as a full-time, hands-on, stay-at-home dad, and wouldn’t trade it for the world. But ah, what a nice and comforting thought, if only we could both stay home and be with the kids, and if every child born had that blessing, to be so loved, to be so wanted. I can’t help but think, what a wonderful world it would be.