I’ve survived two weeks back in the office and both Pace and I are doing just fine… I mean he is… I’m getting there. I’ve actually been back to work since Pace was two weeks old but working from home until now. So, in a way it wasn’t a huge change and in other ways it’s a whole new ball game, on a new planet, in another universe. Being a working mother takes more focus, organization, and stamina than I had ever imagined. Let me just paint a picture of my morning. I’m up at 4 am with Andrew and the dogs which is nothing new for me. But instead of leisurely eating breakfast while checking my phone and then heading to meet my workout buddy for a run, I quite literally run around the house like a chicken with my head cut off. I used to lounge around the house after a workout, watching the morning news and online shopping before heading to work. Some days I’d do a little yoga or even take a nap. No longer, my friends. Never again. Andrew is usually gone for the day by 5 am and so I bow down to you single parents out there. Going it alone, just you and your kid even for a few hours is a lot. A lot. A lot… First things first each morning – I’ve got to pump because… ouch. Then it’s a race to get as much other crap done as possible before Pace starts to stir. This could include packing his bottles, making my lunch, making the bed, picking out his clothes, my clothes, etc. Next I’ll nurse him while blankly staring at the TV… usually Sports Center because I’m still half asleep anyway. If I’m lucky he’ll fall back to sleep after the eating, burping, changing, snuggling routine we have. I’ll hop on my bike trainer or run through a body weight workout in the living room while he either sleeps or plays. If he’s fussy I try my best to get him involved (baby hold squats, pushups over top of him, singing while I ride my bike)… someone should tape the shenanigans. Sometimes a 45 minute workout takes an hour or more trying to keep him entertained too. Then the really tricky part! Can I make it through a shower before he’s really pissed? If I’m lucky! Sometimes I get one leg shaved. Sometimes I end up leaving the conditioner in my hair. Sometimes I have to jump back in once he’s settled. I hate to hear that baby cry. I’ll have myself convinced he’s in a life threatening situation out there beyond my reach from the tub. I’ll run soaking wet to his pack and play to find him just frustrated to be on his back. I swear sometimes I think I see a smirk when I pick him up, like, got’er again! I’ve mastered doing my makeup, eating breakfast and vacuuming while wearing him. He seems to like it and it saves me 10 trips to the living room to make sure he hasn’t learned to walk and open the front door while I’ve been in the bathroom. Oh, and have I gone to the bathroom while wearing him? Abso-freaking-lutely I have. Do what you gotta do, ladies.
Anyway, I drop him at daycare at 8:45. So, from 4 AM until 8:30 AM I move nonstop and I just barely make it out of the door on time. Pure insanity. I don’t even bother with coffee until I get to work. Those first few moments sitting down at my desk used to feel a little daunting with the whole day ahead. Now I think I physically sigh with relaxation when I get there. May I also discuss the amount of things a girl needs when heading to work as a new mom? No less than five bags on any given day: my laptop bag, my purse, my lunch, my pump bag, my gym bag, and his bottle bag. Heading to the office feels like actual travel. I have yet to forget something crucial but I know the day I relax just a little, BAM!
And all that pumping; my part time job while at work. Luckily my office set up a lovely little mother’s lounge just for me so I only have to go 20 steps away to do my thing. Thanks to the world’s best invention, the pumping bra, I can work at the same time, or eat, or whatever else I haven’t had any time to do so far. I’ve even thought about painting my nails in there. You certainly can’t do it at home around a baby who may need your loving arms at any second. Wearing that pumping bra makes me feel like a cross between a milking cow and those fembots on Austin Powers with the gun boobs, except one thousand times less sexy. The whole process of putting it all together and on, then back off again, packing up, cleaning and storing, to turn around and do it again in 3 hours max can be a maddening way to spend the work day. Scheduling meetings around the pumping schedule is fun too. Most days I’ll find myself calculating time in my head of just how much longer I can make it around the conference room table before I enter the danger zone.
Two weeks in and Monday through Friday is still a total cluster but I’m getting it done. I think about Pace all day long, literally every single minute. I don’t worry so much anymore, just pleasantly think of him. I wonder if he’s napping or if he’s playing. I wonder if he knows I’m not there or if he cares yet. I think about things we’ll do with him this weekend or what story we’ll read tonight. Most of all I daydream about that smile I know I’ll get when I come home. Lately all I have to do is come into his field of view. He’ll look at me for just a few seconds and I can see the wheels turning in his head. Then suddenly I see him put it together and give me a big, ‘Oh, hey Momma!’ smile. It makes all those hours away from him disappear in an instant. Any worries I’ve got or stress I’m carrying floats away. I’m not tired anymore. I’m not hungry for dinner. I don’t even care that I’ll do it all again tomorrow. That first welcome home smile is just as wonderful as all of my working mom friends have claimed. It’s easily my most favorite moment all day.
- Find a quick, healthy breakfast to shove in your mouth while nursing/pumping/peeing/etc. I make these sweet potato muffins on Sundays to eat throughout the week!
- Take full advantage of your lunch hour for ‘me time’. I recommend getting outside for a run or walk. It’s my only alone time all day and as much as I’d rather be with the baby, 30 minutes to decompress is key.
- Take a minute in your car when you pull in at home to let it all go. Let go of any office stress or thoughts of what you didn’t get done today. No need to project negativity. Happy mamas and papas make happy babies.
- Find a really, really large bag, you know, for the 100 smaller bags.