I frequently think of things I think might be worthy of a post, then spend an enormous amount of time mulling whether or not I wish to share that information with the baker’s dozen of people who read this blog.
All that is to say that about a month ago, I returned to work. For the half-dozen or so random readers of this blog, I am a freelancer, so I didn’t decide on a particular amount of time for maternity leave. I figured I would go back to work when there was work. A couple of months after I had the baby, when most moms who had decided to be working moms would have been going back to work, my place of employment was having a bit of a dry spell. And thank God for that.
I tell people that it took me a looong time to even think about going back to work and that my recovery was really hard. And I’m not kidding about any of this. I’m prone to hyperbole but in this instance I may be understating things. I’m no good with change and a baby is a big change. It changes your day-to-day activities, your circadian rhythms, the appearance and functionality of your body. It changes your conversations (who knew poop was such an interesting topic?), increases the time it takes to get out the door ten-fold, and involves you in conversations with strangers you would have previously nodded at and sidled away from. It changes your mindset. It ups your empathy and skyrockets your worry. It changes your definition of love.
So yeah…It was hard.
In fact, I only went back because it was a temporary gig and I had family available to watch the baby during the day. The paycheck did factor in to the decision-making process, but had those other two criteria not been met, it would have been a much harder decision.
The experience has been both challenging and freeing. I miss my baby and I worry about her, not so much that she is not in good hands but that she is not in my hands. Actually I often worry she is in better hands. My experience with babies prior to having one was limited, and other people seem better at entertaining her, focused as I often am on getting housework done. Then again, she’s a baby, and helping mom take the stuff out of the laundry basket is a very entertaining game. So looking after a baby is challenging, but work is challenging as well, being that it’s – well – work. But being amongst the polysyllabic bipeds is refreshing, and having a few minutes by myself at lunch when I can read and keep my food to myself (and off the floor) is relaxing. So I’m glad I have this brief opportunity to work but I won’t be sad to return to my baby either.
Which is weird. The last thing I ever wanted to be was a housewife/mother and I often consider my job in television to be the most interesting thing about me, because all I ever wanted to do was work in television. And yet, the old adage/Pampers commercial “having a baby changes everything” is true, and it has left me wondering why writing became the hobby that took a back seat to everything. My renewed interest – no, not interest – commitment – to blogging is to document this unique period of time for myself and my daughter, but what blogger doesn’t secretly hope their quotidian musings will get them discovered and they will be paid upfront to write that book, because the only thing stopping them is some sort of subsidy. (Isn’t that what happened to Diablo Cody?)
As with any big change, the arrival of a baby makes you take stock. What’s changed that you wanted to change, what’s changed that you didn’t want to change? Does the way you’ve chosen to provide for your child create the image you want to project to an impressionable young person? Perhaps I need to work towards that long-shelved goal of staying home to write. But the simple act of going to work sparks a creative desire that may be lacking when I’m simply trying to make it through the day. It’s a catch-22. Still, I’m going to be okay with being home for a while longer because I know something now that I could not fathom after my baby was born, and it is that this time will not last forever. (Seriously, the first four weeks felt like four years.) There will be time to work, there will be time to write. The time for stopping to smell the roses is now.
One final thought, going out to Marissa Mayer, the new CEO of Yahoo! who is pregnant with her first child. She plans to take little maternity leave and work from home during whatever leave she takes. Here’s my thought: HA! HAHAHAHAHAHA! HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! I know she’s wealthy and I know she’s going to have help but I still think she’s dreaming. She’s acting like those people on Pregnant in Heels who think having a baby isn’t going to change their lives. Guess what? It will. Compromises will have to be made, and I think six weeks of maternity leave would be a great place to start. Also, just wait a week or two until those hormones drop. That’s going to be so much fun and not stressful at all for a person trying to run a giant corporation. Good luck Marissa!