making it.


Since January 1st, I have been caught between two of my own firmly-held beliefs: that it will be better for Atticus for me to stay home and, conversely, that I will be a better mother if I go back to work. All the research makes it sound as if his best chances for success rest on me, whether I will stay home and take care of him. It’s a lot of pressure. But I also know that my tendencies to hole up in my house and my inadequacies regarding the baby stage aren’t good for either one of us. The week before I was to return back to work, I was overwhelmed by the task ahead. All I could see were the scary parts: the early rising, the fatigue, the strain on all of us.

And then we were doing it, getting the bag packed and the bottles ready and heading out the door. I had focused so much on the hurdles that I had forgotten the good parts. This week at school there were hugs and cupcakes and the funny and inappropriate things that only children can say. Not to mention the kindness of coworkers who let me know they were happy I was back (before asking me to fix something for them). For me, there was the feeling that comes from a job well done, a feeling that evaded me almost entirely while I was home with Atticus. Lessons successfully executed, technology crises averted, books purchased, plans made. It was a good first week back. And Atticus himself seems fine. The reports from his nannies are all about him smiling and playing with them. He was cheerful in the afternoons, and I was happier spending time with him. I feel guilty mostly because I am fine with him doing so well. And because that is the way of motherhood.

When I mustered up the energy to hope that God cared just a little bit about my stress level last week, I prayed that we would survive, that we could do this. Because we have to, because we think it’s best, because we are going to. And it turns out that we can do this, that we are doing it. We are tired, but we are settling into our new routine. And those people, the ones who have helped us stay on our feet? They are still doing their magic, providing us with meals and helping us make it through.

The idea of going back to work so early was overwhelming to me mostly because my close friends are either stay-at-home moms or had the ability to wait until their kids were a little bit older to return to work. Coworkers, yes, but not people who know me and who know how I operate. This was, perhaps, the scariest part, this idea that I had no one to look to as we took this step. But it turns out that I don’t have to crowdsource every decision. As I continue to grow in my new role, I am learning that I do, after all, have an idea of what works for our family. Even if this isn’t truly the best, I am starting to think that we are going to be fine.

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