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?

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11 thoughts on “Working Daddy

  1. I absolutely remember crying the first (and second and so on) days we dropped our 6 week old daughter off at daycare. A coworker with a daughter at the same school said only, “It’ll be okay, I know how hard it is.” and it was one of the kindest things anyone did. It is, it’s so hard. He’s adorable. And you’re doing a good job, in part by continuing to provide and make yourself whole by spending time with others. His life will be richer for it.

    • Thanks! It’s a good reminder that as parents it benefits our children to live whole lives, to have hobbies, to contribute to the world….

  2. K is almost a year old and I still struggle with some of those same feelings, including that “we had a kid for a reason and me being away from her 9 hours a day was not it.” I do think the time I spend with K is super quality time most of the time, particularly in the evenings and I notice that I am at times less present by the end of a long day with her and wonder if I would be the same if I was off all the time. When you like or really need your job and you really want to be with your child at the same time, I don’t know that there is a way to win. It does get easier but it gets hard sometimes, too. Good luck!

  3. Yes, it is extremely difficult to go back to work. The first day or two is definitely the worst and then it gets much much easier. I think the anticipation of going back to work (as you are counting down the remaining days of your parental leave) is almost as bad (or perhaps worse) than the first week back. Next week will be better. And don’t think for a minute that you shouldn’t have had E just because you both have to be a working parents. He will be just fine and glad you had him.

  4. I have been away from my kids for the better part of 2 years now, and for me it hasn’t really gotten easier, the feelings have just gotten less raw – which I suppose is progress. When Ziggy comes I will only have 3 weeks to marvel at this little creature before going back to work.

    I feel all the same things you feel, the guilt, the sorrow, the liking of my job – they are all normal, and all expected. You dont need to feel bad about bawling your eyes out, it happens to all of us, even as time goes on.

  5. I returned to work in May after a 12 week leave. I cried often during the final weeks of my leave, and every morning for the first two weeks back to work. (and sometimes in the bathroom throughout the day) It does get easier, but it will always suck. My heart still breaks a little when I hand him over to his caretaker each morning. But we work to give them a better life, and socialization is good! It sounds like he is in very good hands. Stay strong!
    P.S. I’m envious that you “love” your daycare. We’re in MI too (metro Detroit), and while we like our daycare, we’re still on the prowl for something better.
    P.P.S. Your kiddo is adorable!

  6. That transition back to work can be really really rough. I remember visiting the daycare where my son would go (a few days before he was supposed to start) and bursting into tears. But after the first week things got much better for me. Tadpole was really well taken care of there, and I think part of the reason for his outgoing nature is related to having been in daycare or preschool for so long. And after 4 years, I feel much more confident that, while his teachers at school are important to him, our role as parents is still the most important.
    Hang in there! I hope things feel smoother soon.

  7. Late to the game, but yes, so hard! I remember saying last year (or was it the year before?) that the best thing about going back to work, aside from the personal satisfaction I get from doing good work and cultivating other interests, is the joy on my child’s face when we are reunited at the end of the day. It just about melts me. And drives all the emotions of leaving that same morning far from the land. Absence may or may not make the heart grow fonder, but oh how my heart loves when the absence is vanquished.

    Hope it’s been an okay transition these first few weeks!

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