Today is my first day back at work full-time, after a transition period of part-time work. I like working, and I like my work, and I've always gotten immense satisfaction from leaving my house each day and entering a building full of people with purpose. But there are Feelings today. Way back on a cold afternoon in January, when my husband and I could only get our girl to sleep if we took her for a walk (ask me anything about the streets of Park Slope, I know them by heart), we began talking about my return to work. I started crying, even then, even knowing that I wanted to go back, that being a full-time caregiver is not for me. Even knowing that it was far away. Because the thing is, this whole parenting-while-working thing is a lose-lose and a win-win situation at the same time. I lose whether I stay home or go back to work. But I win, too, just in different ways. And the struggle is figuring out which ways are more important. More pressing. More long-lasting.
There are Feelings, too, about time. Having a baby makes the passage of time very real. Time is counted now in a way it wasn't before -- how many weeks is she? How many weeks until this milestone happens, or until we have to look out for that? Before my maternity leave, the reality of it felt distant, surreal. I couldn't even picture the springtime. Now, poof, it's over*; I am here at work wearing flats and lightweight jackets. I am here, walking past tulips and waiting for drizzle. Spring is springing, and I am back at work, and I'm sad. Not about working, but because it means time has passed. And it's just going to keep passing.
Maybe this is a treatise on our mortality. I don't know. I just know that I see infinity in my gorgeous girl's eyes. I just know that I love her and I want to spend all day with her. I just know that I love her and I don't want to spend all day with her; I'm not cut from that cloth. I love her and I don't want to spend all day with her and I don't want to feel guilty for that, but I do. And what a waste of emotion and time, two things that I'm always already nearly tapped out of.
*Only it wasn't poof. Not really. My maternity leave has been equal parts exhausting, difficult, loving, calming. (All within the same hour, usually.) In the early days of parenthood when I hated it all (sorry/not sorry) I would count on that passage of time; telling myself it would fly by is what got me through some nights. #RealTalk