Sunday, January 4, 2015

A Whole New Ball Game

Okay. This sounds kind of crazy, but I am really not sure how tomorrow morning will work.

I start teaching tomorrow morning. A January-term class that meets Mon-Thur from 9-12 for three weeks. My office hours are by appointment because I know I'll be skipping lunch and rushing to pick up Coco after half a day of daycare, at least for the first week.

We're sending Coco to the same awesome daycare where we send Zuzu, and I know she'll be fine.

But of course I still am feeling all the feelings about it.

I really like the teacher who will be her primary caregiver, though. Miss A is so sweet and the babies love her.

As if in answer to my anxiety, I got a text from a friend last week telling me that one of our favorite teachers is back in the infant room starting this month. We loved Miss P when Zuzu was a baby, but she left last year to take care of her grandbaby full time. Now she's back, and I'm so thrilled. She's wonderful with the babies and I just love the idea of the girls having the same teacher. It really did give me a sense of relief.

And Coco does take a bottle, which is more than I can say for Zuzu when she started daycare, so that's a big advantage. She might miss her mama, but at least she won't be hungry!

And even though I'm excited about the class I'm teaching, and there's part of me that's ready to go back to work, I'm now feeling all nostalgic about staying home. I hate how much I will miss these girls. I'm also looking forward to being able to have an uninterrupted thought.

In A Room of One's Own, Virginia Woolf imagines what life would have been like for Shakespeare's sister--a woman of genius and talent living during the Renaissance. Her conclusion is that it would have been terrible, in part because women had no privacy, no room of their own, and therefore were constantly interrupted by the daily struggles of running a household and given no time or space for their own thoughts, dreams, talents, imaginations.

I'm not claiming to have Shakespeare's talents (obvy), but lordy I can relate to the idea of not being able to form a coherent thought because I'm being assailed by crying baby or pooping baby or shrieking toddler or a to-do list of household minutiae. "Mommy brain" is a real thing--it's called constant multi-tasking and it is so hard to do.

So, yeah. What I'm saying is, as hard as it is to leave my baby in daycare (and really, if I could take the whole year off to stay home with her, I would), my job is actually easier for me than staying home. And, except for the whole part that I'm her mama, I'm probably better at my job and more suited for it. I like working on big projects, I like talking about complicated ideas, I like thinking strategically and making plans. I like reading without being interrupted.

In spite of my political and personal alignment with Woolf's views, these choices feel so fraught. I've felt a lot of guilt about working when I have little kids, especially since we lost Eliza. I know that babyhood is a short window and that babies need nothing like they need their mamas.

I also know that I worked really hard to get my degree and that academic jobs are hard to come by and that (on good days) I really love what I do and I feel lucky to get to do it. This is only my fourth year working at my first real post-grad-school job. In many ways, I'm just starting my career and I don't want to give it up. I know my girls have good care, with socialization and activities that I, frankly, lack the interest or ability to provide. I know it's good for kids to be exposed to many different adults who love and care about them.

But, oh, I will miss Coco's face. I'm pretty confident she'll thrive in her daycare environment just as Zuzu did/does, but I will miss her.

After my J-term class is over, I'm teaching MWF so I can stay home two days a week with Coco (and keep Zuzu home with us one of those days). Then I'll have the summer off. I know this is a good arrangement for us (I did the same when Zuzu was a baby), and I know it will work out just fine.

But change is hard. And after snoozing until 9am with both girls over Christmas break, it's really going to be a challenge to get into this new routine tomorrow! (Today we all woke up at 8am. Baby steps.)

I'm laying out outfits for the week for everyone. I'm prepping bottles and will be taking my pump to work. I'm showering the night before and getting up two hours before we need to be out the door.

And I'll be giving myself a lot of pep talks.


  1. I completely agree that working all day is easier than staying at home with littles, for so many reasons. My job really isn't mentally taxing at all, but even weekends home with Asher sometimes (like now, see Tantrums, and also DH with a Man Cold) feel like too much. I said aloud this morning, "I am so glad you'll be at daycare tomorrow." Terrible mommy moment, but holy shitballs. Truth. Between mommy brain and thinking of nothing but household chores and diaper changes and food prep for the boy and naptime, my vocabulary has shrunk and my ability to keep up with adult conversation not around parenting topics is so lacking now that I found myself exhausted after a 1.5 hour coffee date with friends yesterday. Pitiful!

  2. What a marvelous role model those girls have of not only a loving and present mama, but a hard working and dedicated professional.

  3. As a full time "stay at home" mom, who took the joke all the way to homeschooling, I'm here to tell you I wish I'd focused on getting an education that would have at least given me the option of being able to get a job that would've done more than just pay for daycare. It's interesting, the parenting choices some of us make before ever having children. I have friends with amazing jobs that wish they could stay home, and would be so much better at it than I feel I am! We've been taking a lot of deep, calming breaths around here... or at least I have ... as we get ready for our new semester, so to speak.

    You are setting a lovely example for your girls, and for my girls - I will so point them towards your blog when they're old enough to appreciate it - and I'm constantly encouraging them to think realistically about work that they would both enjoy AND be able to support themselves with, so we can work together to direct their education towards a field they'll love. My sister is an art major, my aunt is in finance, and you're a great example of how awesome English lit can be! I have girlfriends in the military and an engineer teaching at a military academy that I point to as well... I just want them to have the option to shape their lives in whatever way works best for them and any family they choose to have. Love the insight you provide into your world!

  4. Your arrangement seems like a really great balance. You can do it! Leaving our babies is so hard but I'm so glad you have a great place filled with trustworthy caregivers.

  5. Dude, I think you're awesome. If I had the established career like you had in your area when Eliza died (Andrew died), I'd be working. But, we moved here and then he died in that year and well... it wasn't in the cards for us. We have the funds and I stay home because I sort of don't have that option to do otherwise and because we're lucky to afford it. But you bet your bum that if I had parents local for freebie kiddo care that I would be attempting something outside of the home at least part time. I love the kids, but you said it... MOMMY BRAIN.

    You are wonderful and like Caroline said, you are a fabulous role model for those girls of yours to be both a rockstar mom and a hardworking professional that can love both.

  6. Oh man Brooke .... The stuff you said about complicated ideas and thinking strategically ...that sounds heavenly right about now!! And I had to scroll up, like, 3 times to quote you properly just then! My brain obtains nothing these days!!

    I'll be thinking of you all tomorrow xo

  7. I think I am a better mom because I work. The boys get socialization, activities, friends, outings, etc. Change is hard. Hope all goes well tomorrow!

  8. Big changes! But with great balance and consideration to everyone's needs. I hope your first week goes smoothly and you enjoy your new routine.

  9. I am back to work tomorrow too for the first time in 14 weeks. Not exactly dreading it...but not exactly excited either. In fact, I have no plan except to wake up when the baby wants to nurse, then get ready and go to work. Avoidance, maybe? Good luck to you!

  10. You can do it! Being a mom is hard no matter how you slice it. I'm back at work tomorrow, too, and I'm dreading it but I know it will go fine. But I'll miss the kids. As my mom always says--it's not good or bad, it's an adjustment. Motherhood is a constant adjustment for me, as I'm sure childhood is for my kids.

  11. Hugs! I am sure the first few days will be the hardest. I will be thinking of you today.

  12. Thinking of you today and I think that it is wonderful to be able to work some days and have some days home with the girls.

    We have 4 under 6 yrs old so I am home with them...luckily we have the funds to do it comfortably on one income, because I would not take home much at all with the younger 2 in daycare (as it is I have my middle 2 in preschool and it's not cheap but def cheaper than daycare!)


  13. I'd have felt the same had I just started the career I'd worked so hard for when I had Cate. For sure wouldn't have given it up. You're saying all the right (and true) things to yourself, just gotta get through the first few weeks to get into a groove. I think. I'm sure. Since I don't miss my job at all after having worked it 20 years before kids, I guess I'm no expert. But…I'm supremely confident that showing your girls you CAN have both - a family AND a passion that fills your spirit - THAT is worth its' weight in gold. And may in fact offset in a hugely positive way the hours your don't actually spend with them personally. Now….if only I can apply that concept to showing Cate the benefits of physical fitness! :)
    Good luck today

  14. Definitely feeling all the feelings about that! Good luck, it's a big adjustment!