Catherine Cameron's Take on Returning to Work
Today I am soaked in dread...
Soon I will be returning to work, and my toddler will be joining full time care.
Suddenly I feel as though every second of these last few months has escaped me. And, that every zombie-like moment of desperation in her first year of life was nothing compared to the thought of her being the responsibility of another.
Now I know this is normal. And I also know how darn lucky I am to have had so much time at home with her. But for me, this feeling of dread is unexpected.
I have been so excited about getting ‘the old me’ back, and stepping into work shoes.
To a piece of who I used to be.
Or so I thought.
I thought I knew what I wanted.
I thought I knew who I was.
And then she came along and set fire to everything I thought I knew about myself.
She makes me laugh at things that shouldn’t be funny but somehow are. She makes me think that poo under my fingernails isn’t a big deal. She makes me spend hours outside under both sun and rain, hours once spent in front of a screen.
She makes me do outrageous things. She makes me blow bubbles and pretend to be a motorboat in a public pool, when I hate swimming. She makes me sing songs about ‘wiggly woos’, and a middle-aged man wearing purple who needs to wake up as everyone is ‘wiggling’.
She makes me tired. She makes me go into her room at 4.30am to ask her to please stop barking like a dog as she stretches her arms in the air pleading ‘up! Up!’
She makes me forgetful. She makes me fixate so intensely on her well being that I forget to close draws, to answer messages, to finish my breakfast.
She makes me delirious. She makes me hide under her high chair with a puppet in the attempt to get her to take the Pamol she refuses unless offered to her by a duck.
She makes me lose patience. She makes me blame my husband. She makes my cry. All the time. Tears at how insanely beautiful her laughter is, tears at how empty I feel inside when she falls down and I’m not there to catch her.
She makes me look at my life in a different light. A light that shines on some relationships and leaves others in the dark, as I am no longer who they thought I was, or need me to be.
She makes me feel overwhelmed. Overwhelmed in the responsibility I am faced with in raising her and keeping myself alive.
She makes me feel as though I am not good enough. Prepared enough. She makes me feel as though I simply cant. And sometimes, when it’s all too much, I don’t want to anymore.
And then she makes me feel invincible. She makes me marvel at what I have created in her words, her curls, and her touch.
She makes me want to be alone. And then she makes me forget to shave my legs, because 5 minutes more in the shower is 5 minutes less with her.
She makes me forget who I was. She makes me love who I have become.
She makes me feel isolated in some of our experiences, and part of an army in others.
She makes me see life as the greatest gift, and the biggest thief of time.
She makes me vulnerable. Vulnerable to everything that she is.
Vulnerable to everything that I am.
Vulnerable, and responsible in every decision I make for myself.
And suddenly being sure about what I want in life isn’t so simple anymore.
As my life has changed with her, so have I, in myself.
I need to allow time to embrace this. To embrace myself.
Myself, with her.
I need to be brave. Brave in moving forward, and brave in admitting defeat if things don’t work out as I had once hoped, or expected.
Brave in trusting that she herself can be brave.
Brave in owning the delirious, sometimes impatient, invincible and selfless mother she has made me.
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