gorilla mama: going back to work

I was so excited to hear the news that I cracked a beer at 10:45 am.  As of right this very second I can start working my regular hours (two days a week, plus a little extra handful) with my favorite and largest freelance client.  Seriously.  So.  Excited.  To go to work!  To go to work?  Wait a minute, what the hell?

This from the same person who went to great lengths to escape the 9 to 5 working world, to free up time for what really matters—time itself.  Without work I’ve got nothing but time, time with my family, time to sit outside and watch the squirrels, time to go on long walks, time to read a fuck ton of books.  It is absolutely priceless and lovely.  But now I am a mom and everything has changed.

Yeah, yeah, cliche blah blah blah, everything is so different once you have kids etc.  But I don’t mean what you might think I mean—I don’t mean that now I see some sort of new meaning in life in the eyes of my baby, though I’m not saying that I don’t.  What I mean is that now I have a all-new, never-before-seen-on-tv appreciation for what it means to have the chance to get the hell out of the house for 20 hours a week.  Twenty hours a week!  Of challenging work, brain work, adult conversations, and no baby hanging on my leg or wanting to be cuddled or nursed or tootled or doodled or anything.  People will still want things from me at the office, but they are adult things, things that don’t make my brain feel like it has gone moldy.  I will be able to just get up and go to the bathroom whenever the hell I want.  Ha!  Ha I say!  Deprivation redefines the meaning of luxury.

I’m not saying that I don’t love my baby and dote on her when I’m with her, put all my energy into taking care of her when I can.  I’m saying that it is a huge relief to know that I will have 20 whole hours a week off from that.  I love that she needs me and revel in our relationship, but having grown up in (ie been conditioned by the values of) America—a place that values independence above just about everything else, including human life—I have a real hard time being so social 24 hours a day, so selfless and there for other humans.  I wish I didn’t, and I think that if I had grown up in a different culture I might not feel this way.  But I did, and I do.  And with Baby Pickles turning 11 months old in two weeks, I feel good about the timing for her too.

So here we are.  Me: easing back into my regular working hours and giddy as a puppy, and Baby Pickles: about to spend a hell of a lot more time one-on-one with Papa Beard.  Eeee!

Any parent readers out there?  How did you feel about going back to work (if you did) after giving birth?

0 Comments on “gorilla mama: going back to work

  1. Hmm, I had mixed feelings about going back to work. I felt it was too early at 14 months – mostly because I was entitled to two years unpaid leave and I knew once I started that it would be hard to get anything other than small amounts of rec leave at a time. I worked part time and was the main income earner but I didn’t love my job. That said, I did really enjoy getting to have a lunch break, a pay check, adult conversation and the feeling of being good at my job.

    I reckon it’s different for every one and it’s OK to swap and change according to what works at any given time.

  2. As you know I felt completely the opposite about going to work. But maybe that’s partly because my job was so stressful and required so much energy and effort from me… energy that I just didn’t have after looking after a toddler 24/7. I also felt my schedule was defined by work, meaning Nookie’s needs had to come second all the time.

    Having said all that, sometimes I could really use some adult conversation and responsibilities outside childcare and housework. It gets a bit repetitive. So I can see your point.

    Good luck with it!

  3. A 20 hour a week job sounds awesome. I understand. There are a 168 hours in a week. 20 hours is just 12%. And that 12% will give you a chance to reset.

    Plus some one on one time with papa good for both of them.

  4. I’m not a parent, but you’re expressing the same feelings as every mother I’ve ever worked with.

  5. I’m not a parent yet, and that’s precisely because I am entirely not ready to be selfless and have someone else depend on me all the time. I don’t know how you guys do it, and hopefully I’ll know when I’m ready to give it a shot, but I am SO not there yet.

    …And I thank my stars every day that this choice is mine. Hallelujah!

  6. I think it’s great you got to wait until she’s almost a year to go back. I went back 3 days/wk. when Jane was 3 mos. and was SO tired because she was still waking up at night. All the rushing around in the morning was awful too. But I also disliked my job and the people I worked with…I can honestly say at this point I’d rather have a conversation with my toddler than with any of my former co-workers!

  7. I was thinking about this on the tram today and I think the biggest benefit to me going back to work was that our daughter got to have large chunks of time with her dad – without me around. They have an amazing bond and I have never ever felt that I couldn’t go off and do something on my own (within reason). Big slabs of dad time early on meant that parenting has been very shared.

  8. You know this just once again makes me think of how bizarre it is that we’ve all separated ourselves into little isolated family groups. For most of human history you would have had your grown up adult time, AND wouldn’t have had to go to “work”, per se- because of course there would be an extended family unit (or variation thereof) on hand to help with childcare. Everybody pitches in. I wonder how much of the modern tendency of mothers to be like, fuck yeah, get me back in that office, is so much a result of that isolating tendency. But I think you’ve thought of this already.

  9. Congratulations!

    I did the American thing and went back to work 12 weeks after giving birth. However, I changed from full-time to part-time (25 hours/week) at that point, and I didn’t go back to 40 hours until my son was 4 years old. That was a good decision. Coordinating diapers, pumped milk, and other baby supplies, while still making sure I was well fed and had clean clothes, took a lot of time.

    Even after just 12 weeks, I was feeling stir-crazy at home, and my baby seemed to feel that way too–both of us were much happier if we went out somewhere every day. We are social types. I didn’t mind being with him all the time (especially in the first 6 or 8 weeks, I think it was important for the physical and mental health of both of us) but when I went back to work, I found it was a tremendous relief to have one meal a day with nobody in my lap, to be able to go to the bathroom as soon as I needed to, and to have multi-hour chunks of focusing on a task.

    In our case, my partner was working full-time and we both worked during “business hours”, so our son went to a babysitter who cared for a few kids in her home. She’s one of those people who has a deep love for babies and an incredible rapport with them, so I feel he was very lucky to spend time with her, and she became a good family friend; we still see her several times a year. If I hadn’t gone back to work, we probably would never have met her. (We found her from her flyer in the supermarket.) I didn’t feel jealous or guilty or anything (much) because she had such a great vibe of “We are all loving this baby together!”

  10. I went back at 13 months at just less than 30 hours, but I have a long commute. My daughter started sleeping through the night at 22 months. Yeah.

    I initially liked being back, but I have not been able to hold it to just the 30 hours and there have been times I am just bone tired and have thought I went back too early – before I was ready to push for things like night weaning – and that things dragged out too long because I was unwilling to confront our daughter with more than 1 major life change at a time and there have been several this year.

    What really concerns me is what our life will look like when I have to go back full-time next year.

  11. Janet: That sounds difficult. Curious: Was your babe then in daycare while you were at work? I think if going back to work meant putting Pickles in daycare I might have more reservations just because that feels like a bigger step than leaving her with her Dad.

    RR: Yeah, whether or not you like your job certainly plays a large part in feelings on the subject too. And you were working way more hours for way icky people too, it seems.

    Foy: Exactly! And when you translate it into 12% it sounds like even less time. I think this will be a good balance…

    Mary: Interesting, I haven’t heard a lot of mothers say this. I have the impression that a lot of people don’t want to admit that they can’t wait to get back to work just to get out of the house. Though since I have admitted it a handful of people have come out with their similar thoughts to me. Maybe they are just afraid of mentioning it until they are sure they won’t be judged.

    Jill: Yeah. I knew that I was ready when I noticed that all the things I wanted my life to be were the kind of changes you would have to make to your life to fit a baby in. It is still hard a lot of the time, but it is awesome more of the time, so there is that. I secretly someday hope you do end up having kids that I can croon over from afar though. 🙂

    FVM: Yeah the sleep thing… At this point I seem to have finally adjusted, though she doesn’t sleep through the night. But I get up with her at 7ish every morning and am generally fine all day. I am interested how that will play out with a day in the office, but that is what coffee is for I suppose.

    Elizabeth: Thanks for the link! Interesting article.

    Janet: Yeah I am excited for them about that too. Plus I’m sure the Beard will have more understanding for how I feel after whole days of having her by myself.

    Fishie: I think in part though growing up in a culture like that I wouldn’t need as much time away as I feel I do now. I reckon I would just be used to being around people more I think, as well as having more help. But all just theories. Who the hell knows.

    Becca: Ah yeah the whole milk pumping thing. I have the luxury of now living really close to the office, which means I can come home for lunch and breastfeed then and won’t even need to pump. Thank cod, as the pump totally destroyed my nipples every time I tried it.

    Pickles is also much happier when she gets to go out somewhere every day—and I am not. It is ok, but I am more of a stay at home type. Of course I bet this will be a little different when it is warm and home means the whole outside as well. Sounds like you had awesome luck with child care. We need to start looking for someone good for the occasional babysit. I think it might be hard ot find someone who can handle babies and the way we live, lighting woodstoves and etc. Fingers crossed…

    Annonamoose: Yeah, hard. Thank god my body has adapted to waking up at night a couple of times. I wonder when Pickles will start sleeping through the night. Right now it feels like never. Being forced by a job to make developmental leaps that maybe aren’t quite there yet sounds really really emotionally trying. Best of luck!

  12. Just came back and saw your response. You have a baby who likes to go places…so why not look for a sitter who will care for Pickles in the sitter’s home instead of yours? Then Pickles gets to go somewhere, and you don’t have to worry about teaching the sitter to light your stove, etc. You also don’t have the weirdness of someone hanging out in your home when you’re not there–that doesn’t bother me a whole lot, but I do feel a little awkward about it.

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