I am half way through my third week back working. It has been a quick two and half weeks and I am learning a lot. It was time for me to go back to work. I didn’t wake up on a Monday morning two and a half weeks ago filled with a sense of dread and impending Monday morning blues. I bounced from my bed and waved a cheery bye bye to my family and then flounced off to the airport and jet-setted my way to London for the day. I had umpteen cups of coffee uninterrupted, I had a whole magazine to read all to myself with no one to demand it from me, no one to listen out for or to keep one eye on. Just me and my magazine and my coffee and for a split second, I felt like my pre-baby self. I enjoyed my first day at work. The only person that covered me in food that day was me, because I am, in nature, a messy eater!
But as I waited for my flight back home, and got a moment to really think about what was going on in my little house in Dublin, I got a little bit sad. The desire to see my little Dolly’s smiling face was over whelming! We had a skype date, and she was only delighted to see me. Waving and blowing kisses, and I sat in the airport and it made me want to cry. Which was silly, because I have left her much longer than a couple of hours in a day and not felt that way!
From that moment on I have been torn in two. On one hand, I am so happy being back at work. It is brilliant to be back in an office, having a structure to my day, having a weekend to look forward to again! But on the other hand, I feel so guilty. I feel guilty that I am away from her. I feel guilty that I am enjoying my time away from her. I feel guilty that sometimes, when we have had a rough night of little sleep or painful teeth that I long for bed time. I feel guilty that there are things I can’t do with her. That there are things that I am missing out on.
She stood up on her own for the first time on Monday. She made her first independent stand, in a crèche, surrounded by wonderful girls that are genuinely delighted she did this. But I wasn’t there. I didn’t get to see her first attempt at this. I missed it. And this is what its going to be like. Big steps and little steps will be recounted to me by people that I pay to take care of her, while I am in work enjoying myself. And this makes me feel so guilty.
I know that there are hundreds and thousands of parents that have children in childcare. They are there by choice or necessity so I am not alone in the sadness of missing these things. But since I started back to work, as much as I am enjoying it, I feel a lot of guilt a lot of the time.
On the other side of things, working has made me value the time I am with her. Doing things with her, getting down and playing with her, bringing her to the park and the beach and just out on walks around the neighborhood are the top of the list of priorities now, not the laundry or the dinner or the cleanliness of the floors or any of that stuff that creeps in and distracts you.
I am beginning to realise that guilt and worry come with the stretch marks and war stories… Wouldn’t it be grand if we could split ourselves in two?
The thing about it is, and I’ve given this a lot of thought, even if I was in a position where I never had to worry about money and working was optional, I really think that I would choose working in some capacity. And this hypothetical scenario makes me feel really really guilty.
I have never looked forward to finishing work as much in my life as I look forward to the end of the working day now. I get excited little butterflies flapping around my tummy. The traffic is too slow for me. The lights are too red. Every day I go to collect her, I race in and scoop her up and smoother her with kisses and cuddles and love and try to put out of my head the guilt and just remember that I am doing the best I can do for her.