Last week, I was offered a job.
There I was, flitting back and forth between making dinner and setting the kids up with crayons and paper, doing dishes, feeding the dogs, and putting Christmas decorations away, when d-d-ding! a new email made itself known in my inbox.
The email was the job offer.
I will not lie: I immediately felt awesome. Someone wants to make use of my skills and my brain and my talents and my time and they want to pay me for it! No longer shall I be a mere scullery maid/chauffeur/disciplinarian/butt-wiper! I almost told the kids right then and there (but they wouldn't get it), called my parents, emailed the friends & colleagues who acted as references and cheerleaders during the job application process. But I didn’t. Though I wanted to share the news right away, I just cracked a smile and returned to my maid, I mean, maternal duties. I decided to tell my husband first. (Which I did, once we finally got a moment to ourselves. He was appropriately psyched, delighted, congratulatory.)
While I was waiting for him to come home, I continued my everyday chores feeling slightly more awesome by the minute. It has been five and a half years since I have worked (for compensation), but apparently I'm still desirable. I've still "got it." Go me!
Nevertheless, that feeling of bad-assery (to borrow a phrase) lasted, at max, about fifteen minutes, after which Bronwen stirred from her nap. When I went to her, she stared at me--a concentrated stare--and grinned. My heart soared and then it melted. It practically floated with happiness. And then, with little warning, my heart felt heavy, really heavy, as though it were soaked through with emotion beyond its saturation point and bearing many times its own weight. It was all I could do not to start bawling. (But the kids wouldn't get that either.)
Here’s why. In order to do this job, which (as you will see) is pretty much ideally suited for me at this point in my life and stage of motherhood, I will need to attend training for it. The training is in Texas and lasts four days.
Bronwen won't be tagging along.
Listen. I know I will go to this training, and I know I will be fine. The kids will be fine. Whatever craziness I need to accomplish between now and then (warehousing the breastmilk) and whatever craziness I need to endure while I am there (pumping and dumping eight times a day), I know I can do it.
The rational, educated, feminist, gutsy part of me knows all this.
During story time last night, the Gutsy Dad read to the big girls, while I nursed and rocked Bronwen. This is often how it is in the evenings, and these full-family times at the closing of the day are precious to me always, but especially last night. I admit that I stayed and rocked Bronwen long after her big sisters had gone to bed and long after Bronwen too had fallen asleep, not wanting to let go until absolutely necessary.
Each of us moms has to figure out the right balance between work and home, both in terms of what our ideal parenting plan is and in terms of what makes sense or is feasible for our families financially. I know plenty of parents who work part or full time only weeks after their kids are born and they all (parents and kids alike) turn out fine. I know this first hand.
I also know I am extremely fortunate that I have not had to go back to work sooner than this. And I know that getting back to a state of employment will be very, very good for me.
Further, I have no problem arranging childcare for Bronwen and whomever else needs it when I am here in town and will be working.
But I am dreading those four days away. Sounds silly I know, but I just cannot imagine being away from them at night, not coming home to them. The first time I spent a night away from Jillson was when Madelyn was born. The first time I spent the night away from Madelyn was when Bronwen was born. And that’s it, folks. This is part of the reason I must write this, I suppose--to work it all out--to talk myself into a place of acceptance regarding the mini business trip I will be taking.
Feel free to roll your eyes.
Heck, maybe a few nights away from the kids would do me good. Maybe a few nights away from me would do the kids good. Maybe it would. But sweet Bronwen? Even her?
Then there’s this. I've been thinking this, too:
How in the hell does my husband ever survive his RLBTs, when I cannot even fathom four days?
Ah, it is just that my heart hurts thinking about being away from the kids, mostly Bronwen, for that long a time. Not because I think I can't do it, but because I think it signifies--in my heart--a breaking away from my kids. A breaking away from this time of pure motherhood.
What’s a soon-to-be working part time mom to do? Figure it out and move on.
Be gutsy. Feel the part in your heart that is breaking, and do it anyway.