I've been back at work for 7 weeks. It seems like such a long time.
Looking back at my posts right before and right after going back to the office I can't believe what a drama queen I was.
Yes, this is a big deal. Yes, it's this awful time management clusterfuck that I can never seem to win. Yes, I miss my baby terribly during the day. Yes, pumping is a giant pain and so is bottle washing. Yes, I am sleeping even less because of some growth-spurt-regression and my refusal to just let her cry it out. Yes, my house is a disaster most days. (All days.) Yes, OF COURSE I wish I could stay at home and eat bon-bons with Claire on the sofa. (Because that's what SAHMs do, right? Right? Heh.)
But also? I am kind of getting to a peaceful place with my new identity. The haze is gradually clearing and I am starting to see the benefits of the Grand Trade I am making.
But dude, being a working mom is complicated. SO FRICKING COMPLICATED.
Let's put aside all of the high level stuff that falls under the broad category of Mommy Guilt.
I can handle that. (Well, eventually I can handle it. Am still working on how to deal with my enormous rolling attache of Mommy Guilt that I tote to and from the office every day.)
What is killing me is the day-to-day business of just managing to keep everyone fed and not tripping over Claire's toys in the living room. Nothing beyond that - just keeping bellies full and the family uninjured are my priorities. Anything beyond that (like, say, working out, laundry, writing thank you notes, organizing and sharing photos, returning phone calls, that all falls to the veeeeery back on my list) is simply beyond my capabilities.
For example, this is a typical work day:
430am - Claire wakes up. Sometimes she is up for the day, sometimes she will go back to sleep for two hours. Either way, she would like to eat at this time.
5 am - Claire is finished eating. But I'm awake. And Chris is awake now. Let's say this is a day that Claire would like to NOT go back to sleep. I'll play with her, make some oatmeal and coffee and play some more.
530 am - Chris leaves for work. (YES, he leaves godawful early. But he also leaves the office at 2 pm. Good trade.)
6 am - I put Claire in her crib to play with her reflection in her mirror while I take a shower.
607 am - It is not a long shower. Claire demands my attention. I cannot luxuriate in the hot water and steam and delicious smelling soap with someone wailing at me.
(Incidentally, delightful smelling bath products are my new splurge of choice. The Shower and Bath are things that I never really appreciated before becoming a Mom. Now? I see a Shower and Bath as Much Coveted Personal Time where I get to Be Alone and Close The Door for more than 5 minutes. A steamy bubble bath with some pricey and yummy bubbles is quickly becoming my relaxation method of choice.)
610 am - Claire plays on the floor of the bathroom while I dry my hair, put on makeup and get dressed. I never have anything to wear. Claire has either barfed on a key wardrobe item that I wear frequently, barfed on something I wear infrequently, or everything is wet in the washing machine because we forgot to put things in the dryer last night. I cobble together an "outfit" and swear that I will shop online sometime today at work.
Because I cannot keep walking out of the house looking like this.
630 am - Now it's time to get Claire dressed. This is usually pretty fun since baby girl clothes are so damn cute.
633 am - Claire yaks on her first outfit of the day. We change her clothes to a secondary outfit.
635 am - Time to wrangle the baby into the car seat! And put the 4 bags I need into the car (Laptop bag, her diaper bag, bottles, pump bag, purse). It's too many bags, I know it, but I can't consolidate. Claire is either happy in her car seat while I load them or royally pissed off. There is no in-between.
7 am - We arrive at her day care school. I check her in, pay fees (if it's Monday), put her bottles in the fridge, put blanket, burp rag, toy and bink in her crib, make small talk with her care providers, play with her a bit, say goodbye.
710 am - Head to my office.
715 - 730 am - I'm at my desk! And I'm tired! I go downstairs to the Starbucks in my building and get my second latte of the day.
745 am - I start my day at work. Three hours after I got up.
1130 am - I call to see how Claire is doing today. She is always doing fine. I always feel like a crazy Mom for calling. I shop online a little bit. I don't see anything I want to buy, even though I DESPERATELY need new clothes. I figure I'll just find a new outfit somehow for tomorrow and not worry about it.
3 pm - I leave my office and go get Claire.
310 pm - I arrive and she is always happy to see me. Make small talk again with her care providers. Figure out how her day went. Pack up all her bottles, blankies, etc.
315 pm - Put her in the car, grin at her and play for 30 seconds before we have to head home. I always feel so dumb at this point of the day because I want to spend time with her, and technically I am, but she's in the backseat and I'm in the front...it's weird.
330 pm - OMG WE ARE FINALLY HOME.
330 - 5 pm - I snuggle with Claire and we play. I nurse her. We snuggle and play some more and I kiss her chubby neck a thousand times and exhale, "I missed you SO MUCH TODAY," into her dimpled cheek. Once a week we have to go to Wal-Mart during this time. It always sucks but it's better than going on the weekend.
5 pm - Chris gets home. (He runs some errands, goes to the gym after he leaves his desk.). We get excited that Daddy is home.
530 pm - Hmm. We are getting hungry. Someone plays with the baby while someone else figures out dinner.
6 pm - Dinner is ready. We eat it with Claire on someone's lap. She tries to grab everything on the table. It's funny to see how much better she gets every night at trying to yank things off the table.
6 - 730 pm - Play with the baby. Give her a bath. Put her in pajamas. Play some more. Read books.
730 - 8 pm - Sometime in here, Claire goes to sleep for the night. She requires a bink and a few minutes of rocking and she's out. We are constantly grateful for this one simple thing in our lives.
830 - Chris and I have time alone.
OMG OMG OMG. TIME ALONE!
But since we're so wiped out from our day all we want to do is veg out in front of the TV. The idea of facing Jillian Michaels and my Shred DVD is impossible. And, of course, it's dark outside and even though the gym is open until 11 there is NO WAY IN HELL I am going.
We usually elect to use this time drinking cocktails and watching DVR'd TV in our pajamas. We think this is fabulous. We do not do any dishes.
Sometimes we get wild and crazy and put a load of laundry in the washing machine. It will only get transferred to the dryer a few days later when we remember it or are missing clothes to wear.
Other nights we decide that we want to be really nerdy and do computer things. I shop online, return emails, upload photos, blog. He does...whatever it is he does. Spending time with our laptops and not worrying about someone barfing on them feels highly indulgent these days.
1030 pm - Claire decides she would like to eat. I feed her and she goes back down. (We are working on dropping this feeding. So far, not successful at all. Any tips?) Sometime in here, we decide that we would like to go to bed too. We realize that we probably should have gone to bed an hour ago.
1030 pm - Except, OH CRAP, someone has to wash all the ten thousand bottle and pump parts so I can go to work tomorrow. And this is the biggest whip ever. And we are tired. But we do it anyway. And we hate it. This week we finally learn that the dishwasher can handle the bottles and we just have to clean the smallish parts that don't fit in the basket.
We still hate it.
1050 pm - Shit. What am I going to wear tomorrow? Claire barfed on my frumpy cardigan of choice earlier tonight. I decide that I'll worry about it in the morning. Even after 7 weeks of this, I have yet to figure out that there is never ANYTHING TO WEAR IN THE MORNINGS.
230 am - Claire wakes to eat.
430 am - It starts all over again. Welcome to the next day.
And there you have it. It's getting easier, and as she grows SHE is getting easier. I know that it will not always be like this.
But sometimes? In the middle of the night or in the mornings when there's nothing to wear and we have to get out of the house in ten minutes? This feels like the hardest job I'll ever take on and I can feel the tears well up in my eyes.
(Note to Self: IT IS.)
I love it and I hate it. But I don't think I would have my life any other way. This life is pretty damn good.