Working Daddy

Do you know that I have a running list of blog topics that I want to post about.  I didn’t want our blog to become one of those pregnancy blogs that disappears after the kiddo arrives, but it’s looking a little like that these days, huh?

My 11 week leave was a magical time. I got to learn all about how this little creature we created likes to be cared for.  I was able to see the beginnings of his personality.  I could devote every minute of everyday caring for E if I wanted to (which is sure easy to do as a new parent).  It wasn’t always perfect, or easy, caring for E by myself during the day.  He really struggled with terrible reflux, and it took a while to get the proper treatment.  There were some days that were a blur of epic vomiting and terrible screaming after very meal. I give a lot of love and credit to C who went back to work so soon after his birth so we wouldn’t be too financially impacted.  She didn’t get as much time home with him, and while I worked hard caring for him, I also got to experience all the joy that comes with spending hours and hours with a cuddly new baby.

And then it all came to an abrupt end……and I went back to work on Monday of this week.  It’s been a rocky transition.  I miss the way his head smells and the way his breath smells. I miss staring at him all day long (and let’s be honest—taking pictures of him all day long).  I miss knowing what he is doing every second.  I miss, and have anxiety about, making decisions about every little thing he does, and how he/we spend our day.  (I know this sounds real crazy.)  Now I have to trust that his other caregivers are making the right decisions and taking good care of our little guy.

The good news is I love his daycare.  I love the staff, the philosophy, the community of other working parents we are meeting there.  Without these positive feelings I would have never survived this week.  I know I don’t need to worry about the quality of his care, and that is a huge burden to let go of.  Now I just am left feeling heartbroken and missing him.

On my first day back I  managed not to cry all day.  I was emotional a little on the car ride home, probably out of sheer exhaustion.  I waited until Carrie and E were sleeping. Then I broke down and bawled, crying myself to sleep. The thought of leaving him again and getting up and doing it all over again (the 2 hour commute, the stress of playing catch up at work, the exhaustion, all the extra chooses that come with parenting that need to get done on a weeknight) was overwhelming.

photo (3)

Who could leave this face?

While I muddled through Monday and Tuesday, I was feeling pretty decent on Wednesday.  Today I had a few moments where I forgot I was just off for almost 3 months.  There are some benefits to being back at work. Eating lunch slowly, uninterrupted feels downright decadent. I really love what I do, and genuinely like 90 percent of my co-workers. While the work I do doesn’t save lives ( or feel as important as child rearing) I do know that I’m doing good work and contributing to patient communication and shared decision-making fields. If I have to work outside the home it’s a pretty great job.

I’m having a hard time not feeling envious of other families who have more flexible schedules, work part-time, or are financially able to have someone stay home. I hate these feelings, and feel embarrassed to be complaining about being securely employed. I also hate all the guilt and the thoughts I sometimes have like….”if you couldn’t stay home with him why did you even have him!”  I know that is so DRAMATIC, but if I’m being honest, I’ve battled thoughts like these a lot for the past 3 weeks.  

I’m working on not feeling sad or angry about our reality. I want to remember those lovely 11 weeks when all I did was take walks with E and watch him take in the world. I will never take an hour for granted on a weekday night, and will fiercely savor the weekends.

Many people this week have told me that it gets easier as time goes on.  I can say that C and E are sleeping, and I’m up late blogging instead of crying my eyes out.  That’s some progress right?

Why I refuse to call myself an attachment parent

If you consider the typical actions and philosophies of an attachment parent, the label definitely applies to my parental approach. I respond to my baby’s cues, have made the decision to wear him and hold him as much as possible, and plan to practice positive discipline. We even co-slept for a while with Baby E, though that wasn’t our initial plan. Despite these many overlaps between my parenting style and the tenets of attachment parenting advocates, I do not and will not call myself an attachment parent.

My main reason for bucking this label is my dismay that so much of modern parenting seems to involve an adherence to binary and divisive parental decisions. Do/did you:

  • Breast or formula feed your child?
  • Co-sleep or have a separate room/space for your little one?
  • Stay at home or work outside of the home?
  • Decide to circumcise your child or choose to leave his genitals intact?
  • Vaccinate your child, either on schedule or a delayed approach, or choose not to?
  • Use cloth or disposable diapers?
  • Have a natural birth process or utilize medical interventions?

The list could be endless. Each of the above decisions, and so many more, have proponents and opponents, with research to support either claim. At the risk of sounding like a sanctimonious mommy (or sancti-mommy), I will openly admit: if you are a parent, I have, at one point, judged your choices. It’s not fair and I’m working hard to challenge myself around this practice because I know how it feels when it’s directed my way. Hell, a parent on an online forum recently insinuated that a mom who smokes and breastfeeds her child is the lesser of two evils than one, like me, who feeds her baby formula. Nice.

Parents – moms especially – have enough challenges and lack of support. We don’t need to do this to each other because systems have already set up barriers to our success. This world would be so much easier for us all to traverse if we accepted the notion that we’re doing the best that we can, making decisions that feel right to us in the moments we make the decisions.

I’ve decided not to label my collection of parenting choices because I have found, sadly, that when many of us do so, others with similar or overlapping labels take exception to ways that we seem to deviate from some staunchly held set of beliefs. Let’s be honest, how many of us truly adhere 100% to a set of experiences or beliefs of any particular identity group?

I suppose my identity as a parent will be a lot like that of my sexual orientation: too queer to neatly fit within another’s construct or standards.

I DON’T WANNAAAAAAAA!

Cue temper tantrum.

I can’t believe my ridiculously short maternity leave is almost over. I return for half time work on Monday and for full-time work the following Monday. When I first envisioned this whole motherhood thing, I thought it would be mind numbingly dull and that I’d be literally racing to return to my professional job. While I will say that parenting an infant has been as much work as I had expected, I am definitely dragging my heels about leaving my precious baby. The only consolation is that K and I have staggered our return to work, so E will be home with him for at least a few more weeks.

The first four or five weeks of E’s life have felt like struggling to learn how to run on a hamster wheel. We’ve dealt with inconsolable crying, terrible reflux symptoms, a near constant need to be held during the daytime. E’s just starting to provide us with those moments that make the earlier hardships so worth it – lopsided smiles, funny clucks, coos, etc. I don’t want to miss these moments!

I never thought I would say that I have times during which I really wish I could be a stay at home mom, but I really do. We truly cannot afford for me to do such a thing, though, as my salary quite literally keeps the roof over our heads. I’m grateful for all that we have right now, but it doesn’t usually feel like much, and it would be so much harder if I stayed home.

It’s going to be so hard to leave this face for 8-9 hours each day:

Happy diaper change!

Be prepared for a lot of future pity party mama posts. 😦