It’s 2 o’clock in the morning. My heart is racing. I look around the darkroom. My baby is sleeping peacefully, grunting. My husband snores quietly. And me? I’ve just woken up from a nightmare in a cold sweat. I dreamt I was returning to work.
Two Hearts Beat In My Chest
I think women around the globe have such a moment when they know that their parental leave (if they have one) is coming to an end. But for me, it feels new. While I enjoyed my job before the birth of my child, it’s different from before, because now two hearts beat in my chest. I can’t imagine what it will be like to be separated from my son to return to my job as a marketing manager.
The last months have been a blur. My baby and I got to know each other and learned to live together. I became a crunch time parent and put on my ‘mom uniform’ and did the baby duties 24/7 for my boy:
I feel like you were just in my belly. Recently, you have learned to crawl and are taking your first steps. Speaking of steps, every step you’ve taken I’ve watched and have been there. All the decisive moments. When my parental leave ends, is all this supposed to be over? Just the thought feels like a knife to the heart.
As I lie there awake, between my two boys, and look into your angelic face, I feel my infinite love for you. I want to take care of you and protect you. Cradle you and caress you. Enjoy our togetherness. Look at a picture book, read a story. Nowhere am I needed more than here, by you.
Soon our day, which until now has only been about your rhythm, will have to be planned out. I will be constantly watching the clock on my laptop. And deadlines will have to be met. When is grandma coming? When will daddy take care of you? When do I have to run to pick you up and from where? Will I manage to finish all the projects in time? Will I be able to hit the keys and make my phone calls quickly enough? Or will I leave my workplace late and run to you?
A Latent Guilty Conscious
I’m already feeling guilty about this and I haven’t even started back at work! A good friend and working mom recently said that, when you go back to work, this is part of the second job description as a mum: a latent guilty conscience. She still felt guilty if she didn’t manage to put a hot meal on the table for her already 8-year-old daughter because she had been sitting in a meeting longer than usual. Poor Pauline, I thought to myself. But now I feel it too.
Moreover, I’m already worrying about things like health and safety at the ‘Kita ‘— what if some nasty kid punches my little boy and the Kita teacher isn’t watching, that kind of nonsense.
Mostly, I think he’ll be ready to go by then. He’s always been kind of rubbish at being a baby. It’s always seemed to annoy him, like, “well, I suppose we have to do this phase, but I’d really rather not”! Chances are he’ll be the nasty kid doing the punching…
Do I Miss Work?
I keep in touch with my colleagues and was recently asked if I missed work. I replied that I, indeed, would like to have a normal day at the office again. I elaborated on my thoughts by explaining that I sometimes find myself in a mental state where I think ‘I just cannot manage anything anymore’. And although I know what I’m doing during the day, raising children is often an unsatisfying job. At work, you can talk to your peers, your boss can show his appreciation towards your work, you can focus on a specific project without interruptions. This can satisfy you at a deeper level.
In this fantasy, however, it strikes me that these are mostly the good memories: appreciation, praise, and approval. But, of course, there are downsides in the business world. Just as there are raising a child. But I don’t want to think of the bad times right now. Maybe it’s still due to my ‘breastfeeding dementia’? Or did nature set it up that way so that parents would consider, despite already having a 100%-availability full-time job with ONE child, to have another?!
My Final Thoughts
Now it’s 2.45 in the morning. My baby’s arms are wriggling. And I suspect that in about two minutes he is going to wake up. For the first time in months, I’m very happy about this.
My heartbeat slows down again. And I say to myself:
I vow to cherish every remaining second with you and to live more in the moment, not in the future. We still have some weeks left together. The time to cut the cord has not yet come. I swear that tomorrow morning, ahem I mean, this morning, I won’t complain about the usual Sisyphean household tasks, because I will still be able to live my dream: being together with you.
For all the (working) moms out there and with all my love 👶💵,
Previously published on medium
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