Today my daughter is 10 weeks old. Today is also the day I return to work after my 10-week maternity leave. My going back to work was always in the cards for us, starting from before I even met my husband. But now that I'm here--now that I've finally arrived at this moment in the timeline of my life--I'd be a bold-faced liar if I said it was easy.
Last night I reached a wall where I needed to just stop doing all of the things on my Going Back To Work To Do List, and just be with my daughter. I realized it was my last evening with her before I would be a bona fide working-outside-the-home mother. I needed that time with her, and I like to think she needed that time with me, so I gave it to us.
|Snuggly Girl :)
Another thing I did last night--and I'm still doing it now in the early morning hours together--is take many, many pictures of my darling girl. My phone is my camera, and all of my photos are saved on my phone as well as automatically uploaded into the cloud (in this case via a private album on Google+, of all places, ha, but it was the most automated way to set up my photo and video back-up on my Android device). I think my reasoning for taking so many pictures and videos of her, and of us as a family (especially pictures of her with her daddy, since he will be her primary caregiver while I am at work these next months: the flexibility of his work schedule allows this, thank God), was to try to etch deeply into my memory my daughter's countenance, since I won't be seeing it in the flesh as often as I have these past months once I am back at work. It's fascinating to me that capturing her in my phone's camera viewfinder helped me do this...an indication of the central role technology is playing in my processing and memories of these early days with my little one. And most of the pictures I've taken are for me and me alone--I only share on Facebook and via email (to her grandparents and uncle) a fraction of the pictures I take of her. But these pictures and the few videos I've taken of her so far are precious to me, and even more so now that I'll be apart from her for much of the work week.
|Watching Man of La Mancha with her Dad
"This is my quest, to follow that star, no matter how hopeless,
no matter how far..."
Speaking of, our plan for child care throughout the week is as follows: I work an evening shift at my library (Monday through Friday, afternoons and evenings), which means I get to be with her all morning. Paul works two mornings a week at one of his schools (the nearby Orthodox seminary), which are Monday and Friday mornings. Then he teaches two classes at the same university where I work, for an hour and fifteen minutes each afternoon, four afternoons per week (Monday through Thursday). In addition, I will be off from work every Wednesday between now and the end of the semester, which is something I was able to arrange because I saved so many of my Vacation Days in the first half of this calendar year. So what this amounts to is the need for child care other than Paul and myself for three afternoons per week--Mondays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays--during the times I am at work and he is teaching elsewhere on campus. For these times, our daughter will be in day care--a very good day care that is very close to campus and which many of my colleagues at the university use for their children. We are very happy with where she'll be for those few hours on those few days each week. We recognize that she will interact with very good care givers, and as she gets a bit older she'll have the opportunity to be "at play" there in a way that Paul and I can't always facilitate here in our home due to the nature of our home and work lives. So overall, our situation for the rest of this semester at least is very good, all things considered, for which we are very grateful, since these early months in her life as so important to how she bonds with the two of us as her parents.
|I took this one as a visual reminder of how well-loved and cared for she will be
with her daddy while I'm at work.
Interestingly, due to various circumstances outside of our control, she isn't starting at day care until next week. This means this week Paul and I will be watching her somewhat "on the job," which my incredibly supportive supervisors at work have approved. Which brings me to the positive side of this situation: I've missed my work as a librarian. I mean, I wasn't necessarily pining for it throughout my leave (I was way too distracted by the cutest baby on the block), but I am looking forward to picking up the thread on projects I am working on. And I love my co-workers dearly, and have honestly missed seeing them daily. And finally, with the Fall season upon us here in NEPA, which is my favorite time of year, I am so excited to have a reason to get dressed and leave the house every day. Boots, skirts, hats, scarves and sweaters are just so cozy and lovely. And if there is one thing NEPA can be said to excel at, it is Fall leaves--the colors are jaw-dropping for a few weeks each year, and those weeks are now upon us. Not a bad time of year to return to work if you ask me.
I'll end this little reflection with something I posted to Facebook last night in a status update: "For the record, I don't regret having to go back to work. But it'd be foolish to think that means I won't be sad tomorrow." This transition is a complicated one in terms of my thoughts and feelings. My roles as wife, mother and librarian are about to converge big time...and part of the purpose of this blog is to document this convergence. Thank you, dear readers, for coming along for the ride.