Wednesday, February 04, 2009

The heavy-hearted realization

It has been a strange first week back at work, to say the least. Monday began with London's transformation into a winter wonderland, snow having fallen throughout the night and still continuing throughout the day. I didn't even think about not going in, but with very few Tube lines running, I had to make a 25-minute walk or so before even getting on to the Bakerloo line at Queen's Park. It was such a beautiful start to the day - it was so peaceful and quiet as I made footprints through the park, and the snow, which was still falling in soft, chunky flakes, was so clean and fresh. The few people who were out smiled and said hello and I heard one woman telling someone on her mobile phone that it felt like Christmas Day. Fortunately Matt was able to stay at home since the staff at nursery weren't able to make it in, and Blake therefore had his first "snow day"!
At the office, there were only about 2 dozen people in, and the mood was light as people remarked on their journeys and generally didn't go about their normal business. This, too, felt like Christmas! Since more snow was predicted for the rest of the day, we were told we could leave any time really, and after managing to turn on my laptop, download 7000 emails, and arrange my desk, I decided that I should head home to my boys. By this point the park bore little resemblance to the peaceful scene of 7:30 that morning, as people had been out in it all day. I was so disappointed to have set off without my camera that morning, and reminded myself that the beauty of the first, freshly-fallen snow is so soon replaced by grit, ice and the most unpleasant color of trod-upon slush.

Tuesday I worked from home, but fortunately nursery was open so Blake went down for a pretty full day there. He is doing really well, although he still cries when we leave him; apparently he is already demonstrating an affection for all the fair-haired staff, has a keen envy of all the walkers, and is eating up a storm. Not too bad. He also has a funny interpretation of "kisses"; when I get there to pick him up he greets me with a big lick of my cheek - funny but a bit wet!
So, in fact, today felt like the first "normal" day for us all. I got in to work at about 8:30 and went about trying to figure out how to get caught up with things after a year away. I thought about Blake throughout the day, but not in a real pining-after him kind of way. I knew he'd be having fun at nursery so I didn't worry about him. My working day when I'm in the office ends at 4:30, so that I'll have plenty of time to navigate the Tube and get to nursery by 6:00 at the latest, so it was upon leaving the office that I started to have doubts about this whole back-to-work thing. I could just imagine that it looked to many like I was leaving early, and it only got worse as I arrived at the nursery and it kind of hit me quite hard that all of a sudden, Matt and I aren't really the people raising Blake for 4 out of 7 days a week. In my trade, some might say that I was "outsourcing" the raising of my child. I suddenly felt selfish, worried and inadequate - how am I ever going to be a stellar employee and perfect mother if my time at each of these jobs is not really full-time?! It seems that with everything related to becoming a parent, one only really knows what something is like or how it feels once it's happening (which is why reading books before having a baby isn't the same as reading them once the baby has arrived). All my hopes and positive outloook leading up to my return to work now just seem like a naive attempt to convince myself that I'm doing the right thing by going back to my job, when all of a sudden I just want to go back to the way things were! As my Mom often reassures me when I relay a problem to her (when she's not telling me that she thinks Beyonce is the most beautiful woman in the world), "This too shall pass." I'm sure I'm just feeling what every mother who returns to the working world must feel. I guess I'll just have to hope that, like the chaos brought to England on Monday by the biggest snowfall in 18 years, it is only temporary.


Marisa said...

Meg--your thoughts are totally normal but you'll soon figure out what makes sense for you. Just remember, NO ONE is perfect and you will always do the best for your kids.

Sweet Carolina Girl said...

Kids plural!? Have I forgotten that I have another...?! Hee hee, only joking. Thanks for the reassurance. I'm sure I'll feel better in a week or so. I'm cursed by perfectionism but I do know that feeling perfect is an impossible mission. I'm home today and have been enjoying today, and this time with Blake. Now if only we could win the lottery!