Sitting on my living room floor I watch Gemma crawl from from point A to point B. First she finds a teething toy, chews it, shakes it, looks back at me and scrunches her nose in a smile that lights up the room. 30 seconds later she abandons the toy and beelines for the router and a few loose chords. I make eyes at her – “Gemma, those aren’t for playing or eating.” But she picks up the external hard drive with an even bigger smile and chomps down. My stern tones aside, I am pretty sure that in her world any attention is good attention. I scramble over, pry her baby fingers off the chord and bring her back to the center of the room where the game resets.
The first week home with Gemma I felt disoriented. Like I was in a boat with no anchor and no destination – just bobbing on the water making sure my baby didn’t climb overboard. If I had taken a week of vacation it would have felt glorious, but this was different. The future felt totally uncharted. In the past I would have found my captains hat, jumped to the steering wheel and searched for a promising island, all while singing something like “it’s a pirates life for me.” Basically, I would have been invigorated by the unknown, but adding a baby to the mix is really throwing off my professional know-how. I am unsure how to navigate career waters knowing that I don’t want to be away from Gemma.
Lest you think that staying home has been a huge emotional drain, I have to tell you that it really hasn’t. Having Gemma fall asleep on my chest in the middle of the day makes me feel like we are two puzzle pieces that are meant to be together. Sitting her on the counter in her Bumbo while I cook has made both of us laugh at Brussel sprouts more than any normal person should. Fitting in a run is as easy as pie when the day is open. And Gemma slept through the night twice last week. In case you thought Gemma eventually started accepting a bottle while I was at work, let me set the record straight. She did not. She averaged 3 oz of milk during the work day and made up for it with 3-4 night time feedings. So, sleeping through the night is amazing.
When I was working I wanted to be home, but not that I’m here it doesn’t feel quite right either. It’s fun to be home, but I have this internal anxiety at the same time about working. Here’s a snippet of my ongoing internal dialogue.
Me 1: “Staying home could be really fantastic. You’ll get use to it and have a routine.”
Me 2: “But you really like work, and you’ll probably miss it.”
Me 1: “Sure, you like work, but you just aren’t use to staying home yet. And Gemma loves this.”
Me 2: “Does Gemma really notice? She does, but she’d be fine with someone else too.”
Me 1: “You’re her mom! Of course she notices. You’re going to love being in charge of your schedule, and making better friends with moms. You can do the meal prep-planning you’ve always wanted to, and eat clean, and get really skinny now.”
Me 2: “That all sounds nice, but you’re still going to have this itch to do something professional. If you don’t pay attention to it, you’ll regret it.”
This kind of conversation goes on and on and on. and on. I am thinking about what comes next, but I haven’t taken any real action yet. Writing this post makes me realize that I need to think of the life I want and work to make it happen. Right now I am in limbo and it’s not a rewarding place to be.
Have you been in this kind of situation? How did you decide what the next best step was for your life? I’ll be poolside with this water baby figuring it out this summer. Don’t feel too sorry for us 🙂