Tuesday, October 5, 2010

I don't know

I don't know how I am going to return to work.

I mean, I know how I'm going to do it. I'm going to kiss Jack on the head and walk out the door. I will simply ignore every instinct in my bones, sit at a desk for 8 hours, and the deed will be done. Jack is my drug and there will be withdrawal. I'm probably going to cry. I figure I'll spend much of my first days back looking at pictures of him and sniffing onesies that I've sneaked into my laptop bag.

But I still don't know how I'm going to do it.

Until recently, work was my Entire Identity. Then infertility struck, which became my New Identity, and then a year of wondrous fertile experiences, and those were my New New Identity. For nine months, we incubated together, growing in body and soul. For the last three months, I've been Jack's mother, living in the lovely land of the present moment. After some adjustment, we found our stride, and I was surprised to find out just how good of a fit motherhood was. Very infrequently in life you get exactly what you want for a short period of time, and happiness strikes. These three months have been happier than any other three months of my life. True words.

Jack needs constant care and it feels so right to provide him with my undivided attention, to allow myself the luxury of being consumed by him. My love borders on obsession, and when Jack is so tiny and so helpless, that's OK. But that won't always be the case: his infant stage will end, and I know that I will need something more. I suppose it only makes sense that I would be scared of losing what is now "normal" for me, so I ought to anticipate that the transition being difficult. I know that I would not be a complete (or happy) person if I stayed at home forever: my return to work is necessary and inevitable.

Can you tell that my feelings on this issue fluctuate? I'm trying to convince myself of something here.

Because, today I am and tomorrow I will continue to be captivated by this little being. I breath in the perfume of Jack's hair, feel his solid weight and soft skin against mine, his exhalation making a warm spot on my arm with a regular cadence that is the most perfect rhythm I could imagine. Oh, how sweet is his breath as we snuggle and dance together on this rainy afternoon. He wakes up and smiles at me, and I smile back. He coos. We are each other's world. I know that I've enabled his life, that I am the guardian of his happiness and the protector of his future. Who else can do this better than I can? We are still one. His skin is my skin. We have shared every molecule together: his body is of the milk that I nurse him with. My eyes begin to tingle. I can't leave him. I can't let him go. I keep thinking, "you can't have him", and I don't know who "you" is until the I realize it is the world. I will cradle him in my arms forever.

My maternal urge is overwhelming and terrifying.

So I must prepare for a new identity and another transition. Remind myself of what is so difficult to remember: I will not be returning as working woman. I will be a working mother, and I won't know exactly how it feels until I get there.

What shall I do as my maternity leave draws to a close? I don't know. Muse, cry, enjoy what remains of this special time, and snuggle every chance we get.

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