Friday, May 7, 2010


So, back to work.

We all have friends that do this, but you know that friend you have who always does this: who asks you a question about your life in a voice carefully modulated with just the right amount of pity and concern, the one who can barely hold back her excitement as she prepares to hear a woeful answer? The one who nods sympathetically and cocks her head just so, even before you begin speaking? Imagine her.

I'm surrounded by her this week. She comes in shades of exaggeration and grades of concern but it's like I've entered the funhouse mirror room at the traveling carnival. There are a gazbillion reflections of her, that friend. The skinny, straightforward versions just want to make sure I'm okay. The distorted, ugly ones expect to hear of turmoil and forgotten items and missed deadlines. They all ask in varying tones and degrees of head-cock: "how is it to be back at work?"

To the versions I've smiled at and to the trollish naysayers I've disappointed the answer has been the same:

it's fine.

As it turns out, getting three kids out the door is only marginally crazier than getting (my first) two kids out the door. And returning to work after being home with my baby isn't hard when I enjoy work, am fortunate to work in a near-stress-free environment, and have as much access to him throughout the day as he or I wants.

And the lactation room where I go pump milk for the babe is so comfy (upholstered armchair in a key-access-only small, quiet, private, single-user converted broom closet with a wall cheerfully covered in photographs of users' and alumnae's babies' faces), I've been setting the alarm on my cell phone to wake me from my naps when I'm done and need to return to my desk.

Is it crazy to have three kids and work full-time? So many people think so. Even my friend with four children asks me once a month or so, "I don't understand how you do dinner." She works out of the house, but only until 3pm. Then she juggles the rest of her work load via unofficial extra work time, with 1am emails and Sunday morning meetings.

To me her schedule proves my point: dinners in my home can be quite haphazard but we all do what we need to do to fulfill the choices we want to make.

I don't think it's crazy that I continue to work full-time. I think what's crazy is that so many mothers feel they cannot. (Please note the difference between that model and those women who choose not to work after children.) I've always wanted a fulfilling career and I can't imagine walking away from it now as it becomes ever more and more interesting.

So I'm back, and it's nearly a non-event. G took naturally to the daycare environment. His sisters kiss and hug and fuss over him throughout the day and when they're not watching over him, he's being watched over by the same loving women who watched over the two of them. And I'm back at my desk, which feels anticlimactically natural.

There are, I promise you, many ways in which our family's chaos is a spectacle. It turns out that adding G to the daycare roster and returning to work, though, isn't one of them.

Welcome back, me. Pin It


Jill@ClearestGlimpse said...

Thanks for your blog. As a working mom I appreciate your commitment to both your work and your children and although I sometimes feel spread too thin, most of the time I, too, am just grateful to have the gifts of both motherhood and my career. And most days the two get along swimmingly!

Inna said...

As someone who hopes to be able to be a full time working mom someday soon thank you for being such a great example. :)

And here's a better version of your friend:
"Welcome back to work! I'm glad to see you! :)"

LazyBones said...

I work part-time, but I am very, very jealous of your description of your work place as near-stress-free. Mine is near-total-stress lately, and my afternoons off are scarcely enough time to recover from the mornings.

I keep repeating: I love my job, I love my job. Because I know I do. But it sure doesn't feel like it lately! I'm so glad you're enjoying a smooth transition, and I hope to join you soon in feeling that my daily workday is a non-event, rather than a tidal wave in which I attempt not to drown!

Also: napping while pumping? Rocks!!!

Emily said...

I love your attitude toward working and mothering. Before I started reading your blog, I generally just saw the stereotype of a working mom. You know, the frantic and running, trying to "have it all" all and all at once, but still somehow failing at everything, made-for-TV-movie kind of mom? I love you for blowing that stereotype right out of the water! Of COURSE working and mothering aren't mutually exclusive. Of course you can do both things well and both things happily. I'm glad somebody finally let me in on the secret!

a li'l bit squishy said...

While I choose to be at home with my children and work only when my husband can be home for them, I admire those who choose differently. Those who choose to be at home full time because my mind needs the different stimulation that work provides, and I always think that there is something to be said for the solid routine that fulltime working moms have setup for their families(including evening and weekends with their families). I am glad that the transition has gone so smoothly.