More up and down and all around

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Today was an emotional day for me. So much going on, so little time, not enough sleep.

Baby slept in this morning, so I did too (she’s my alarm clock). We made it out in time, but it meant we didn’t get a lot of bonding time in the morning. And the drive there was okay but she didn’t enjoy it and naturally I felt guilty for confining her to a car seat for an hour a day.

At work I came to a few realizations. There is a lot of work in my job and it’s not slowing down. The really difficult part of my job – managing complaints and moving a movement forward – is just beginning. I’m trying to do a full-time job on an 80% schedule. And unless things change, I’ll be at my job into the indefinite future; it’s not a case of hunkering down, pushing through and then being finally done. I realized that I need to find ways to make work sustainable or to find a different way to be.

I missed my baby a lot today, more than usual. Looking at her pictures during the day, particularly while pumping milk, brought me to the brink of tears. I love her so much and just want to be with her all the time. I don’t like the forced dichotomy of work, of separating myself from her. It does not feel natural.

I also enjoy work. It is rewarding to plan, organize and problem-solve. It’s great to know that my education and abilities enable me to do this job effectively. I wouldn’t say it makes me a better mother to have a job, but I will say that it is a source of satisfaction that differs from mothering work. And given that bills keep coming in, it is a great feeling of security to know that I bring home a steady paycheque.

I had some wonderful and emotional encounters today. My little brother came to see me. He’s starting university this year as a mature student. I’m so proud of him and love him so much. And because he’s my little brother, and because I know him, my heart really goes out to him. I worry that he is worried or scared; I want him to make friends on campus and feel happy and confident. And there’s not a lot I can do about it. I hugged him, listened, gave him chocolate and told him to come back often.

I ran into a lovely colleague from work. I had the chance to apologize for some scheduling conflicts that make it hard for him to attend meetings. We talked about work, and the world, and the meaning of Sept. 11, and the many heart-wrenching realities in the world like the Congo, and our own responsibilities and roles and change-makers. It is always heartening for me to interact with him. I like and trust him and know that he cares about the world.

Then, an old friend was there. He’s a student here now. So wonderful to see him; always wonderful. And very surreal (in a minimalist way) to connect with someone who is part of my heart within a work environment. It was a sweet reminder of the bigger picture, the real human relationships I am part of, the real community I want to help build that is not just emails and meetings and goals met, but real people and real vulnerabilities and real truths.

Back at my parents’, seeing my girl playing with her cousin. So much cuteness, so much funny babyness, so much love! And I thought about the little babies who are, by choice or necessity, shuttled off to daycare at 6 weeks, their entire world shaken, having to grasp that the centre of their universe suddenly isn’t around. And my heart broke again.

The drive home, after we stayed for dinner, was the usual mix of challenging and a relief. I had to pull over after about 5 minutes of driving, feed her, walk with her. My faith in humanity was renewed when a young women with two kids in the back pulled over to see if I was okay. After a while baby went back to the car seat and fell asleep. I stopped once more to prop her head up and then relaxed all the way home.

And then the rest of the evening – 7:00 onwards – flew by. My amazing husband played with baby while I had a bath and read (Aaaah!). Baby bathed with me, then nursed/bottled. Then woke up and played. After 45 min. of playtime we finally admitted that we needed to do a serious sleep intervention. So, just like the night before, we took her on a walk. Asleep within the block. Transfer to bed, nurse some more. And free by 9 something. The days are long lately.

There is a character in The Secret Life of Bees who can’t handle the sadness in the world. I am not as sensitive as she is, but I know the feelings. I put myself too fully into someone else’s life and can be overwhelmed by my understanding of what they are going through. In reality, I know that people are resilient and have many inner resources, and that hardships are what make us grow. Still, I can be swamped by my emotions for other people. I haven’t figured out what to do with this particular sensitivity. I try and balance my thoughts but it is hard. I do not have a detached perspective on others’ difficulties. Especially as a mother, I know this will challenge me.

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