This week, I had to go back to work for a few days. On the first day, it was extremely hard. My baby girl was bouncing happily in her Jumperoo, smiling and drooling and being her absolutely adorable self. I must have said good-bye to her five times. Twelve kisses weren’t enough. Three cuddles weren’t enough. I had to get in enough to last me nine hours! When I got in my car, there were tears in my eyes.
When I got to work, I had a really hard time getting into the swing of things. I felt like I couldn’t remember how to do my job, and tasks took three times as long as they would have back in December. But, like riding a bike, it came back after a few hours, and I hit my stride. I found myself energized, excited about using those parts of my brain after a six month hiatus. I realized how much I had missed working.
But it wasn’t the same. I found myself stealing glances at the clock, wondering if she was taking a good nap or what books she read after her bottle. I kept turning on my phone just so I could see her face light up my screen. Every time I did, I couldn’t help but smile. I wanted to kiss those little cheeks and squeeze those not-so-little thighs. I had to swallow the lump in my throat multiple times. I missed her.
I couldn’t wait to get home. I got to go rescue her from her crib when she woke up from her last nap, and my heart melted as she broke out into a wide grin and started to giggle when she saw me. I spun her around in circles and held her close and sang silly songs.
But I was tired. Really tired. My husband had to leave for a meeting with a client. I tried to breastfeed, but my girl wasn’t having it. She threw a fit, thrashing her legs and refusing to eat. I was tired, and frustrated, and my patience after a long day was pretty much gone. I quickly filled a bottle, which she happily grabbed and sucked down in record time.
I couldn’t wait for bed time. I had some ideas I wanted to work on before going into work the next day. I found myself staring at the clock, wondering how it was possible that only three minutes had passed. I felt exhausted, and confused. All I wanted all day was to come home to my daughter. And now that I was there, I could barely focus on her.
Ever since my post on the pause button, I’ve really been trying to be present in the moment. It’s hard. I wasn’t even sure how to do it in the beginning. And now that I am preparing myself to go back to work full-time, I’m finding it near impossible.
When I’m at work, I’m thinking about my baby. When I’m with my baby, I’m thinking about work, or I’m too exhausted from work to think about much of anything but how warm and soft my bed is.
So, I ask you, working moms, how do you handle the tug of war? How do you find ways to be present in the moment when you feel guilty, torn, exhausted?
And, please, tell me, it gets better, right?