This past Sunday my sweet baby turned one. A whole year old.
A year where the first 6 months felt never-ending as I navigated the unknowns of motherhood. And where the last 6 months felt like my entire life was flashed before my eyes, as I watched my boy learn, grow and develop into what would be a happy, hilarious and tiny toddler.
As I reflect on my year with Jack my heart hurts. There were so many moments I neglected to enjoy as I struggled with postpartum hormones and sleep deprivation. My heart also hurts because it’s beaming so much with love and pride, a hurt that can only be felt when you truly love someone more than yourself.
While sitting on my couch this Tuesday morning at 3 a.m. the memories from this year, both good and bad, flew through my mind like you expect your life to flash before death. Indeed, I felt like a piece of me was dying – more specifically, a piece of my heart. In only a few short hours I would be bringing my son, my one very true love besides my husband, to a facility – leaving him in the arms of a stranger while I spend my day in a cubicle making money for The Man. My heart ached and I cried.
As if this wasn’t torturous enough – abandoning my baby – my mind also questioned how we would survive?
If you’ve talked to me about my son recently, you would probably know he doesn’t sleep. If you’re inside my close social circle, you’d know I haven’t slept longer than 2 hour stretches in the last 8 months. This is no exaggeration, and yes, we’ve tried pretty much everything. Returning to work meant not only giving up my necessary afternoon nap, but it also meant a stranger holding, consoling and rocking my baby as he struggled to sleep.
If you’ve talked to me recently, you’d know my husband and I are expecting our second child. Another little being, who we are elated to meet. If you’re inside my close social circle, you’d know I found out I was pregnant when my son was only 8 months old and I was battling some serious postpartum hormones. Returning to work meant putting myself another peg lower on the totem pole, and not fully healing before the arrival of our sweet baby bean.
If you talked to me this week, you’d know my first day back to work was an absolute shit-show. I began my day on 3.5 hours of sleep and ended it with a scene out of a horror movie – though now that I’ve healed, it seems more like a comedy show. I picked up Jack and we scurried home for dinner and snuggles. Not knowing exactly what he had eaten at daycare or how much he had eaten at daycare, I filled him with his favourite ravioli. Note to parents making this transition; ALWAYS ask your care provider when your child last ate and how much. When I picked Jack up out of his high chair, he instantly projectile vomited on my shoulder which went in my hair, down my shirt and made its way down my pants. In return, my disgusted and pregnant self couldn’t contain my dinner and joined him in emptying my tummy. Cue the dog – who decided it was time for his dinner. Dave walked in to not one but two babies, crying on the bathroom floor, naked and covered in vomit…and a very happy dog.
It was then and there on that bathroom floor, after just one day of trying, I decided I wasn’t cut out for this whole working mom thing. I decided I wasn’t strong enough and I decided the only logical answer was to quit. If I quit I could continue to make home-cooked meals for my family, take my naps, fuel my son’s mind, grow my young bean, be a kick-ass wife for my husband and heal my very neglected soul.
As all these thoughts went through my mind, I remembered a feeling from that day I hadn’t felt in a year – the feeling of being a useful, intelligent, strong individual and woman. The feeling of being proud of myself for providing for my family, communicating as an adult, and inspired by things I’m passionate about (outside my family).
In reality, as hard as it is to crawl out of bed after a restless night of (no) sleep, drive my son to daycare and wave goodbye to him (and his tears) in the arms of kind and loving women, not all of this experience is bad . Parts of it are challenging while parts of it are refreshing – and I’m learning I’m capable of so much more than I’ve ever given myself credit for.
Although I’m only at the beginning of my short jaunt as a working mom (kudos to the mommies weeks, months and years into this journey), I’m quickly learning that with anything, balance is important and putting yourself first is priority. Moms are seriously wonder-women – but do you hear me here? Putting yourself first is priority. There will be days I’m going to call in sick because I need a day to calm my mind or play with my son, there will be days I’ll order takeout because I simply don’t feel like making dinner, there will be days Jack and Dave won’t have my full attention because my heart needs it more and there will be days, like this Tuesday, where I just want to quit.
Being a mom and a (pregnant) working mom is no easy feat. It takes time to adjust to new roles and routines but be kind to yourself, as I’m learning to do now. Life at home with Jack was hardly ever glamorous. We had our fun and I would jump back into that stay-at-home mom role in a heartbeat, but 5/5 days of the week Dave would always receive a subtle “when are you coming home” text when I was at the end of my rope. Neither being home with your kids all day or working full-time is glamorous.
Here’s a big (virgin daquori) cheers to you mommies, you bomb-ass-do-it-all-babes. I’ll be taking notes from you as I dredge through this messy new chapter in my life and learn a whole new way to balance (I seriously was just getting the hang of having a kid).