Thursday, January 20, 2011

My Feminine Mystique

I go back to work Monday. It took twelve weeks for me to feel ready. I have spent a lot of time feeling like I didn't want to go back, a lot of time feeling guilty for feeling that way, and a lot of time putting my baby's name on things.

There aren't very many women lobbyists, and even fewer are mothers. Even though I was adamant about returning to work, when I was seven months pregnant, a coworker asked me what my real plan was. He honestly couldn't believe that I would be back. I choked up when he walked away. I didn't think I wanted to come back, but I wasn't sure I had a choice.

The funny part is, being a daycare kid was good for me. In fact, when I was younger, I felt bad for the kids who's parents didn't work. I enjoyed my summers with the house all to myself. I could make grilled cheese sandwiches and dunk it in ketchup without judgment. I could watch soap operas without my dad telling me it would rot my brain. Those other kids had someone scheduling music lessons and educational trips to museums. I liked to spend the summers rotting my brain. If nothing else, it prepared me for maternity leave.
I've felt terrible for believing I belonged with my baby and not being a productive working woman. My parents made a lot of sacrifices to ensure that I'd have an education and a good job. They certainly didn't do it so I could stay at home and be a mom. I want them to be proud of what I accomplish. Now, I have a little boy to make proud too.

I used to picture myself as the evening news anchor or maybe even the first female President, but never a stay at home mom. All of that changed when I met Rocky. Suddenly, those kids weren't entirely a foreign concept. I knew who their daddy would be. I started to re-evaluate what I wanted in life and where I saw my career taking me. My priorities were changing.

Over the past eleven weeks, I have done a lot of crying. The thought of someone else getting to see him roll over for the first time sent me to tears. Knowing another woman would get to cuddle with him while I was stuck in a meeting broke my heart. I worry that he won't get enough attention, he'll be left crying in a chair, she won't sing to him.
I know there are some very good reasons to go back to work. For instance, in the past couple of weeks I started to think he might need a professional, a professional baby keeper. I ran out of songs. I didn't know the good games. How do you keep a three-month old entertained? He needs to learn social skills from other kids. He needs to learn to share adult attention and entertain himself from time to time.

I think Rocky might be glad I am going back too. He could only handle so many conversations starting with "today on Ellen..." I'm sure he agrees that it will be nice when I wear pants without an elastic wasteline. I want to make him proud of me for something other than picking out socks that coordinate with onesies.
This post is a jumbled mess. I'm a jumbled mess. I am going to miss Bennett terribly. I will miss cuddling with him in the mornings. I will miss those squeals when he plays in his chair. I'll probably miss those elastic pants too.

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