I have mixed feelings about being back to work. I am glad for the excuse to remain busy. I was pretty useless around the house. Shelby kept trying to reassure me that feeding Hannah was my only job but I always felt like I should be doing more. I could have put a load in the washer. I could have emptied a box while she slept. But I wanted to soak in every sleeping second with her since I knew I’d be coming back to work all too soon. Without her distracting coos, delicious smiles, and devastating cries, I can pound out tasks, pay some damn bills for crying out loud, and feel useful again.
I hate leaving my daughter all day. Not because I don’t think she will be well taken care of; she is smothered with love and attention. She took the bottle the first time it was offered but still had no trouble nursing later. She is alert and happy and “reads” books and “sings” and cries (note the lack of quotes). She will carry right along without me. And that is what makes me saddest.
There is nothing I can do that can’t be done by someone else. We can argue the semantics of who does it better, what is more natural, who is right and who is wrong until the cows come home but the fact remains, she can survive without me. At six weeks old, she’ll barely notice if I’m not there so long as she is fed, changed, or held when she cries.
I find myself a bit more blue than I expected. I think about the Hannah 3 years from now and wonder which parent she’ll run to for comfort, which one of us can soothe her and which one will struggle repeating “_____ will be home soon.” I get teary eyed at commercials where daddys and daughters have a close relationship. I think about my husband’s divorced brothers and their daughters.
And then our friend’s 13 year old daughter makes me think of our 13 year old Hannah and I wonder who she will turn to to talk about love and bodies and homework.
And then I think about 33 year old me and reflect on my relationship with my parents. And that makes me think of 33 year old Hannah.
And then I remember that she is 6 weeks old. That she is sleeping more hours of the day than not. And though she can barely see, she knows my voice and knows my smell. She grunts when I leave the room, she can tell when she’s alone. She can tell when she’s being held and she can tell if the holder is standing or sitting and expresses her personal preferences. She smiles. And not just gassy smiles but legitimate causal smiles. She shows fear.
Shelby and I both comfort her in the ways we know how, in the ways that work for us. And they are just as different now at 6 weeks old as they will be at 3 and 13 and 33. And just because they are different doesn’t mean they are right or wrong or will lead to an entire decade of soothing from one parent. And it makes me proud that I can go back to work and offer my husband the opportunity to continue working for the theatre he loves and that makes him happier which makes our house happier which makes a good place for our daughter to grow and that makes me happy.
And then I think about her growing in our house without me and I get sad again.