Tuesday, August 14, 2012

What I know now

Dear Wesley,

Tomorrow is what feels like my first 'real' day back at work, and it is just awful. I really don't want to leave you. You're going to be with your dad and your grandma and grandpa, and I've been gone for short periods of time before, and I've even sat at my desk, and I've even pumped milk before. You'll probably nap through most of it, tomorrow, but... I really don't want to leave you. I really, really don't want to leave you.

I've written about this topic before. There are a few differences between this time and last time that I left my baby to go back to work. The last time, Jack was 13 weeks old and I'd been on full maternity leave for 13 weeks. This time, you are only 6 weeks old and it was not possible for me to abandon work completely. The last time, Jack went to daycare. This time, you will staying with your dad instead. The last time, I'd all but given up on my profession interests. This time, I can't give up. The stakes are much, much higher.

The last time, I didn't know how it would feel. This time, I can anticipate exactly. I know how painful it will be to think of you and not hold you. I know how much I will hate pumping instead of nursing you. I know that the pain will be physical, that I will feel it, feel my breasts fill with milk that you need and my arms empty of your weight. I know that I will want to spend every single minute looking at photos and videos of you and googling things about your development and planning things for your future, and that will be silly because it will be time wasted at work that I could be at home. I know that I'll feel guilty for that. I know that I'll feel guilty for the minor fulfillment that I get from work and for the minutes of personal time that inevitably happen when you sit at a desk all day - for chatting with someone in the hallway, for a daydream or a quick check to the news. I know that I will be upset and the analysis of the situation will distract me from work; that loss of productivity will upset me even more. Like how it's midnight now and perhaps if I was working on grants instead of working on my emotions, perhaps then I could spare some minutes at the computer screen tomorrow for minutes of holding you in my arms.

I wish I could write an honest resolution here. I could come up with something. I could write about why the alternative mom/dad work situations would not work for us, rationalize that you and I will not be emotionally separated by the physical separation, mumble a thing or two about how we will be just fine, just fine, because everyone does this. (I'm really scared those things are true). It wouldn't be hard to make it sound good. But it also wouldn't be honest.

Because, honestly? There's nothing to say to make this any better. That's what I know now.

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