Today was such a good day, despite the fact that John was
working late and it was too inhumanely hot to do our usual playground visit and
afternoon run. Will slept until about 8:30, woke up with a smile, and we lay in
bed for awhile cuddling and “talking” (I say something; he responds with “meh?”
or “mah”). After breakfast, we played with his toys, including a new-to-him toy
that I brought out of storage last night, a sloping track for little plastic
cars. The look on his face when he entered the den and saw it was priceless.
|Some favorite toys these days|
When he became bored with his toys, I let him play around
with some old cords, a hairdryer, and a computer mouse (which he promptly
placed on the desk next to our real computer mouse) while I made the bed and
got dressed. Our house has so many random objects strewn around in weird
places, but this is how I’m able to put on my makeup.
We left at 11:15 to run errands in the stroller; the heat
was intense, so there was no meandering. We dropped off paperwork at his daycare
and spent some time at the bookstore, where they have a chest of toys and a
great selection of kids’ books. Then we went to the sandwich shop for a really
delightful lunch… sat across from each other at a little table in the window
and ate our turkey sandwiches with lots of grins and no fussing.
Home again to walk Stella, with Will in the back carrier. He
fell asleep, and I laid him on our bed, where he proceeded to take a solid
one-hour nap (!), during which I wrote a little and read the New Yorker. He woke up groggy, and we
cuddled on the bed for about 20 minutes. Milk, reading books (I sit on the
floor in his room and he brings them to me), practicing “How big is Will? Soooo
big!,” watching some Korean Pororo cartoons on YouTube, then outside to play in
the kiddie pool for an hour—lots of fun stomping in the water, pouring with the
funnel, and, of course, worshipping the hose, Will’s most favorite toy.
Inside for our afternoon snack of yogurt and crackers (he knows what “eat”
means now, which is so helpful), then off to walk Stella, more playing with toy
cars, and 20 minutes of Baby Einstein while I cooked dinner. He sat in the
little rocking chair that was mine as a toddler, clutching a wooden spoon and
swaying to “The Wheels on the Bus.” We ate in the dining room, more grins and
excited head-bopping for the sweet potato and zucchini and cheese. He was in a
mischievous mood, pretending to put food in his ears, which he knows is wrong,
then putting it in his mouth and reveling in my praise.
The mischievousness continued after dinner, when I emptied
his diaper pail, told him to stay away from it, then found him fiddling with
its door; when I reprimanded him, he erupted in crazed giggles. Bathtime! I
sang Pororo songs and he kept trying to stand up and dance in the tub. So much
smiling today, so many hugs and arms lifted to be held, so much dancing and
As John settled down in the rocking chair to put him to bed,
Will closed his bedroom door; I was standing in the hallway. I knocked on the
door and asked for a goodnight hug. He opened it, smiled, and gave me one. Then
I blew him a kiss, which he doesn’t yet know how to reciprocate, I thought. He
blew me two back and closed the door. I sat at the table and cried because I’m
so just so happy I get to be his mom.
Unbelievably, I go back to work in three weeks. I still
vividly remember my first few days home alone with Will, after John returned to
work in late April. I could not fathom how we’d fill the next few months, how
I’d get through the 10 hours of each day. Taking care of a mobile toddler on my
own, all day, seemed like the hardest thing I’d ever attempted to do.
I’m not going to say that I now find it easy. But definitely
easier, and with really, really huge rewards. We’ve had some bad days, but more
of them have been like today. It’s just me and him, together, getting to know
each other and becoming mother and son. We’ve gone to playgrounds and the
beach, on runs and playdates, on the el, to parks and the bookstore, out for
lunch and for ice cream, to a local museum. We’ve read books, kicked balls,
drawn with sidewalk chalk, walked around the neighborhood, run errands, met
dogs, watched Pororo cartoons, played in the kiddie pool, listened to music. We’ve
cuddled. There have been tantrums and crying and confusion and worry and naughtiness
and boredom and frustration. But there have also been many spontaneous hugs
from Will, an inordinate amount of laughs and smiles, bonding, babbling,
singing, and dancing.
Sometimes, going back to work feels like the wrong choice.
The thought of leaving him—after we’ve been so joined at the hip since April
12—makes me feel incredibly sad (even though it’ll be made easier by the fact
that John starts a five-week paternity leave when I go back). Then again, there
have been several days when I dearly, fervently wished I was sitting in my
office. When Monday morning rolls around, I don’t feel a sense of pure pleasure
at the prospect of caring for Will alone for five days. I know that parts of
those days will be beautiful, and I do truly love spending time with my son,
but I feel a small sense of dread at the upcoming tedium and isolation combined
with very limited parental down-time (Will isn’t much of a napper; some days
it’s only 15 minutes).
I definitely don’t want to not work. But I realize that I’m
wishing I didn’t have to work 40 hours a week. Even working just four days a
week, instead of five, would help alleviate the guilt that’s already starting
to creep into my mind and heart, settle heavily on my shoulders. I enjoy my job
and colleagues, and it’s a family-friendly workplace, and I’ve worked hard to
achieve the position I have there. But John and I don’t need my salary to
survive. So the wheedling voice of guilt tells me that I’m going back to work only
because I want to… because I don’t want to take care of Will full-time… and
that’s a selfish choice that isn’t best for a toddler. No one has actually said
this to me, and John doesn’t agree with it, but the voice is there.
I know there are other reasons to keep my job. I honestly
believe I’ll be a happier, more balanced person and, therefore, a better parent
if I’m working. If John lost his job and I was unemployed, we’d be in bad
shape. If John wants to change jobs for one that’s less stressful with a lower
salary, he’ll have much more latitude to do that if I’m working. Editorial jobs
are difficult to come by, and it would likely be extremely tough for me to find
another well-paying, fulfilling position if I take three or four years off… let
alone at a company that’s as sane and pleasant as the one that employs me now. I
could try to build a freelance editing business, but I’m not sure how to
schedule weekly childcare for unpredictable work, and I don’t think I can
mentally handle parenting all day and editing all night. Then there’s the fact
that we’re pretty confident Will will adore daycare and thrive with the
activities and other kids.
Still. The guilt, tinged with a little sadness. It’s there,
and I’m not quite sure what will become of it. In the meantime, my focus right
now is on enjoying these last few weeks of just the two of us. I’m trying to be
as present as I can. I’m taking lots of photos. Every night, I write down all
the little discoveries and accomplishments and feelings and funny things that
happened that day for both of us, knowing that once I’m back in my office—managing,
editing, hair done and lipstick on and no need to worry about what the
toddler’s getting into or how to entertain him—I will, without a doubt, miss him
and these precious, precious days.
Labels: deep thoughts, family, fears, good things, home, joy, Will