So this is it. The back to work countdown is slowly creaking its clanking, awkward way to a mind numbing close. Back on Monday. How do I feel? I know how I have felt. Super, I thought. Positive, I lied. Blissfully ignoring it, I now realise. Sad, I can confirm. At a bit of a loss, for definite.
I think of the men and women who choose to stay at home to mind family. I want to keep my job. Full time teaching is impossible to get in Ireland. So I must keep it. I think of the women who strapped the baby onto their backs to go to work, out of necessity. I imagine how my students would take to that.
I think about little Betsy. She is so small. The same argument pops into my head as when I first left Gigi with minders. Why am I doing this mad thing? Leaving my little girl with a stranger (to her) and what’s more, paying them for the privilege? It feels so unnatural.
Worry. Always, always worry.
Nanas are helping this time too so those days will be OK. Betsy’s minder is a lovely woman who Gigi got along fabulously with so I know all will be good. It’s this initial ‘leaving’ your small, dependent, loving, adoring child that feels so threatening and soul destroying.
I have been blanking out the thought of this return. It’s not the job itself. I like my job. It is very busy though and I have to emit a huge amount of enegry and drive to teach efficiently (like most workers). So I fear there is less left over for my homelife. I don’t want to comprimise what I use for my family so I tried to give the same at home when I went back to work after baby one. Result? Exhaustion. Now baby two is here. I need to be dynamic for both them and my husband. I need to keep our home safe clean and happy for them. I can’t let standards drop. I know this is going to be difficult. Challenging. I know millions of others are in the same boat. Like everything, this knowledge is like a band-aid that keeps falling off, it only helps briefly. Keeping home and work going smoothly is a symbiotic relationship that may need much counselling to function.
This morning I had a melt down over dishwashers, bottles, laundry and dogs. Minutiae. Essential minutiae. I stood in a sweat at 8:30 am wondering how will I do this every morning again before work and now with the new baby too? Will this house ever be truly clean again? Will our clothes ever be ironed again? In fact, will I ever feel clean again?
I was wearing the top I had slept in. Stained yoga pants. My hair piled up in last night’s sleep bun. I had brushed my teeth at six am and they now felt like I had spent an hour chomping rainbow coloured lollipops in the Wonka chocolate factory and rinsing my mouth afterward in red lemonade. I needed to be at an appointment at nine thirty. It was official. I would be leaving the house in this state. It was around then the fear set in properly.
Secret bathroom tears. Don’t let the babies see or feel your angst. Quick rinse of face. Grab water. Get going. Stay strong. Don’t give in to the overwhelming emotion of helplessness. It will pass.
I still feel the fear. On Sunday night, it will sleep with me, leaving me cold, like a duvet snaking away from the bed exposing bare flesh to the breeze from a cracked window. Shivering. Unsettled. It will pass too. Until then, it is with me. A thief in the night. Stealing my sleep. Comfort. Contentment.