Okay.

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So, I’m ready.

I think.

Okay, maybe I’m not really ready but I’m just going to do it.  I’m just going to talk about it.

About how I’m starting back at work on Monday.

*****

People told me how fast time would go by.  Even before Little Bee was born, the number one thing I heard from people with kids was, “time just FLIES!” Followed promptly by, “be sure to enjoy EVERY minute, because you’ll be back to work before you know it!”

Ugh.

Yes, I could definitely feel time after I had her.  It was suddenly tactile, something I could hold in my arms in the form of my baby girl.  In the beginning though, it didn’t feel fast.  In those early moments, where she would be screaming at 3am, and I would be bouncing on the exercise ball in the dark, holding her close while she wailed, time barely moved.  Those seconds in those minutes in those hours in those days… they crept by like a slow-moving river.

But somewhere along the way, the dam burst.   At some point over the last thirteen months, the river that is Little Bee’s life became too big to be contained and is now rushing by, and nothing can stop it.

It is a glorious thing to behold – life moving and growing and learning and exploding – just the strongest force known to man.  My daughter, crashing through all the milestones with an iron fist, is my greatest achievement.  My greatest victory.  My greatest creation, and I have been honoured to sit here in our warm little home, and watch it unfold over every waking second of our days.

And now.  After MONTHS of avoiding it, of putting it to the side and ignoring it – that my river was still moving, too – I’m finally getting myself ready to go back to work.

And all those days of dancing to silly songs, taking her to the park, hearing her first words, witnessing her first steps, feeding her, cuddling her, nursing her, watching her sleep, they feel like they’re coming to an end, in a way.  This precious time that I’ve had with her, these delicate days, are they going to fade into the background?  Are they going to drift away with the current?

The logical, practical side of my brain keeps telling me that, “Beth, this is good for her.  She is going to learn all sorts of wonderful social skills and make friends and learn how to share and become a perfectly well-rounded individual who will go on to rule the world or invent an amazing vaccine or become a teacher.”  But then that other side, the loud, sobbing, overly-emotional dramatic side, the side that has CONSUMED me throughout various times in my life, shouts over the other, “but, Beth!  She is going to miss you so much!  She is going to run and fall and bump her head and cry out for you and you won’t be there, so someone else will have to comfort her!  She is going to take naps, and when she wakes up you won’t be there to rock with her and make her giggle and sing your wake-up song!  She will call for you and cry until she shakes and her hair will get caught in her tears and she will just say it over and over again, ‘Mama, mama, mama!'”

Oh my God.  That stupid voice.

So now I sit here, while she naps, wondering whether I did enough to maximize this split second of our lives.  Did I hug her enough?  Let her sleep on me enough?  Kiss her and twirl her and laugh with her enough?  Was there enough playtime together?  Enough exploring together?  Did we spend enough time together as a family?

Will she remember any of this?  One day, years from now, will she smell Cheerios and be whisked back to sitting in her high chair, eating her third bowl of the day because that’s all she would allow me to feed her?  Will she hear our morning song playing on a radio and go back to the times when her Dad and I would dance around her crib to it as she was waking up?  Will she smell my face cream in a store, on a friend, on a stranger in a bar, and remember how I used to hold her so close to my skin for so many hours, that she would smell like it, too?

I don’t know.  I won’t know for a long time, if ever.  She might end up holding those memories so dear, that she will want to keep them to herself, just like so many memories I have of her.

To all those Mamas out there who were excited and happy to go back to work – I applaud you.  I envy you.  I wish it could be that easy for me.  And to all you Mamas who are going back and feeling just as shitty about it as I am: you are not alone.  Yes, it can feel like a very bad breakup – no one else in the world could possibly feel the pain and heartache you’re going through.  But so many women battle with it, fight back against it, resist it… until they can’t anymore.

Okay.  So.  I’m about to get back on my boat.  About to float downstream to where I came from thirteen months ago.

But at least… at least I will have those memories.  My daughter laughing, dancing, learning, playing.  Walking, falling, crying, sleeping.  I’ll have those to get me through my work, until I can be with her again at the end of the day.

Trooper

12 thoughts on “Okay.

    Angela Tasevski said:
    October 30, 2013 at 11:13 am

    Way to go Beth. Now I’m crying at work. 😦 my three year old wanted me to play with her this morning and I couldn’t. ‘ I have to go to work baby’ is what I said. And she tells me ‘I don’t like it when you go to work. I miss you’. Heart. Broken.

    They tell me it gets better, and it does, until they’re old enough to tell you something like that 😦

    Angela Tasevski said:
    October 30, 2013 at 11:14 am

    Beautifully written btw. Sorry I should have led with that, then maybe I would have stopped myself lol.

    alana said:
    October 30, 2013 at 1:43 pm

    Beautiful Beth!! Going back to work is so hard. I still remember crying all the way to work the first morning. But your sweet little girl will also learn so many new skills the most important being independance. I will be thinking about you Monday morning

    Nikki DiPietro said:
    October 30, 2013 at 2:31 pm

    Fantastic read, Beth! I feel your pain. Stay strong! xox

    Dans said:
    October 30, 2013 at 10:06 pm

    What a thoughtful and well written post.

    Simone said:
    October 31, 2013 at 7:59 pm

    Oh Beth! Simone here. My friend sent this to me and said to get the Kleenex out. Well I’m in the dark, still nursing my little guy to sleep and the tears are quietly flowing! (yay iPhones!) I’ve just started steady part time work and my “baby” is 2! I put it off too! I has 1 year of paid maternity leave and we moved partway through the year, so no full time job to go back to! Anyway, thanks for writing this. 2 months ago, I saw daycare and job hunting as these terrifying monsters coming to ruin our lives. Now he’s mostly ok at daycare (he even naps there!) for 4-5 hours a day and I have a great job (for now anyway) and we’re OK! It was a crazy ride with lots of scary moments, but we got lots of support and we made it “to the other side”! I don’t know when this post was dated, so I don’t know where you’re at, but I hope you make it through and feel good again soon! Thanks again for writing this! :0)

      mamabethbarnes said:
      October 31, 2013 at 9:46 pm

      Simone!! I wrote this post yesterday! I’m going back to work this Monday, and my daughter actually starts daycare tomorrow. *SOB* I’ve spent the last 2 hours bawling my brains out while making a list of her daily routine for the ladies there – honestly, I don’t think we as humans are meant to leave our babies. EVEREVEREVER!!! Lol! Thank you SO MUCH for your comment, it was such a lovely read and incredibly reassuring 🙂 I know that things are going to be okay… I just need to make it through until it is, you know?? Anyway, I hope you had a great Halloween, and that you continue following me on this (CRAZY) journey! All the best! Xo

        Simone said:
        November 1, 2013 at 9:51 am

        Oh man! Good luck today! I so want to share the tricks that (I tell myself) helped us with our daycare transition! But we took weeks and Morgan is older, so I’m not sure the same tricks will work… I think the key things to remember are that your child will bind with the caregivers in a couple of days / weeks and that that will really help things a lot! Also, don’t worry too too much about the routine as they are used to this and will figure it out! If at all possible, try to do a transition week with less hours and work up to your full work schedule. If this isn’t possible, either get a grandmother to do that or just “take the plunge” and it’ll only get her to bind more quickly with the daycare workers. It’s so so so hard and your instincts are exactly the same as mine, but another thing that is totally true (and hard to pull off) is for YOU to be calm and confident and act like this is a good thing and you trust the daycare staff. This will give your daughter (you have a girl, right?) more confidence that they are safe people to be with. The other thing that’s important and hard to do (and took me a while to believe in) is that you need to say a fairly quick goodbye. The longer you drag it out, the more anxious you’re both going to get. What we do is have fun on our way to daycare (stop at a park, nurse, hang out / nurse in the entrance way) and then the “indoor shoes, see you later alligator, kiss & high five” part is all quite quick. I put him in his teacher’s arms or directly in the room over the baby gate and I wave and leave. Also, the thing that helps is when they know you’ll come back, which they don’t know at first… Be brave! Give yourself a pat on the back! Seek support from the right people and don’t open up too much to people who might not be sympathetic and, ummmm, remember that you love your baby and she knows it! I thought I was a lost cause back in september. I think the staff were thinking that too (although they mostly were very supportive). Now I feel pretty good and I know that Morgan is ok and even having fun! To be totally honest, it’s still hard, but it’s not gut wrenching hard. It’s still a bit sad to say goodbye, but we’re not anxious about it (most of the time). And I know that he calms down almost immediately after I leave! (I’ve called and peeked and asked other parents or staff to peek…). Hugs to you and your girl and feel free to write back again if needed! :0)

        Simone said:
        November 1, 2013 at 9:52 am

        So many typos I’m sure… Thought I’d correct one funny one: your child will BOND with her caregiver, not bind! LOL

    A Hard Pill. | I Am The Mama Mantra said:
    November 8, 2013 at 1:08 pm

    […] Okay. (iamthemamamantra.com) […]

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