And It’s Done

Thank you all for your support yesterday. And the past few weeks. And the past months. And the past years. Seriously, I feel like I can never say it enough. I don’t know what I’d do without all of you.

So the first day back has come and gone. It wasn’t so bad. It was fine, actually. I didn’t get much sleep, but I treated myself to a veinte Star.bucks Cinnamon Dolce Latte so I did alright. 😉 I shed some big, crocodile tears in the car, but they only lasted about ten minutes and by the time I parked my eyes weren’t even red.

The kids seemed happy enough to see me and my staff was very kind. My principal came in during my last class and gave me a big bear hug. All the lessons I planned went well. The one thing I kept forgetting to do was check the time. I guess I just haven’t been on much of a schedule for the past three months.

After my last class I high-tailed it out of there so I could pick up Monito on time. I pumped in the car, on the drive up and honestly, I don’t think pumping will be much of an issue at all. If I pump when I wake up, pump on my drive home, pump before I pick up Osita and pump before bed I’ll be on almost exactly the same schedule I was before. Now I have to determine if I can handle the constant itching and burning because clearly the thrush is going no where.

Monito was in great spirits when I went to get him. It’s clear he’s being loved on constantly at my in-laws house; I have no doubt that they are providing exceptional care. We are so, so lucky that they are willing, and able, to watch our son.

I had three hours at home with Monito before I picked up Osita. It’s kind of hard to make myself lunch and eat it when baby boy is awake but I can figure that out. It was nice to spend some time alone with him before his sister joined us. Osita was actually in a pretty good mood, and Mi.Vida came home a bit earlier than usual so all in all, the day was okay.

There are still a few things I need to figure out, like what I can have on hand for breakfasts and tide-me-over-before-lunch-at-home snacks on-the-go. Most on-the-go food is NOT gluten-free so I’m not quite sure what I’ll do when I need to eat in the car. If you have any suggestions let me know. (And I know smoothies are a good option, but I’m worried the blender will wake everyone up in our small, paper-thin walled house).

There was one strange part of yesterday: the realization that I don’t want to teach anymore. And before you think that the I-want-to-still-be-on-maternity-leave part of me is talking, hear me out. It’s not that I want to be home, although I’d take three more months of maternity leave in a heartbeat. It was just that I felt absolutely no enthusiasm at work yesterday. There wasn’t one spark of interest, at all. I just didn’t care. And it felt weird. Even when I actually wanted to be home with my daughter, I was excited about some aspects of returning to work. I was happy to see my students. I was interested in what I was teaching. There was none of that yesterday. It wasn’t necessarily negative, but it wasn’t positive at all. It was just… Meh. Bleh. I just didn’t care. Not. At. All.

It doesn’t even make me sad to write that. In fact, it seems so obvious, now that I see. It’s been happening for a long time, this descent into apathy. This is my tenth year teaching and I suppose it was bound to happen. I have been wanting to move to high school but felt it didn’t make sense to do so until we know where Osita will be going to Kindergarden. So I’ve just been sitting around, kind of twiddling my thumbs, hoping that maybe a move to high school will get me interested in teaching again.

And maybe it will, but after yesterday I’m beginning to doubt that is the case. I guess we’ll see.

The thing is, at this point it doesn’t really matter if I want to be teaching or not. I mean, I HAVE to keep teaching. It will be at least five years before I’ll have the bandwidth to think about doing something else. Not that I have ANY idea what that might be. And it won’t even be that bad. It’s not like I hate it. I just don’t like it.

It makes me sad to think I probably won’t be teaching when my kids are in school. That was the whole point, the reason I became a teacher, so that I’d be around during the big vacations, like my mom was. I loved that my mom spent the summers with us. I wanted to have that with my kids. I just don’t know if I have it in me to keep teaching for 15 more years. I really don’t.

Anyway, besides the professional crisis, my first day back at work wasn’t so bad. It could have been better, but it could have been much, much worse.

Have you ever realized that you didn’t want to do your job anymore? Did you do anything about it?

Two weeks left of maternity leave

Today my parents came over to help us move our elliptical trainer a few feet from one wall to another. Tomorrow I’m building Monito’s crib. In three days my son will be three months old. In two weeks I’m going back to work.

It’s all happening so fast. Way too fast.

I’m not ready.

I’m not ready to leave him every day. I’m not ready to negotiate the very early mornings and all I have to do and all the ways both my children need me. I’m not ready to have to think about what I’m going to teach every day. I’m not ready to be prepared–mentally, physically and emotionally–to stand in front of middle schoolers and keep them engaged. I’m not ready to wear so many hats over the course of the day. I’m not ready to keep all those different balls in the air.

I’m just not ready.

This maternity leave has been so nice. It got off to a rocky start and the transition with Osita has been challenging, but the six hours I have with my son each day have been amazing. I so enjoy just staring into his eyes. He smiles all the time now, and laughs. He grabs at things. He is so happy, almost all of the time. He sleeps like a champ, day and night. I am so incredibly grateful for my son. I’m so incredibly thankful for this time. I’m not ready for it to end.

We’re so lucky that my in-laws will be watching Monito while I’m at work. I’m so lucky to be part-time so I can still see him for the better part of each day. I was so fortunate to have over three months at home with him in the first place. I don’t feel like I have any right to complain about how hard it will be to go back. We really have the ideal situation.

And yet here I am, writing this post.

Because honestly?! I DO NOT FEEL READY.

And I suppose I never will. My sweet baby boy is already sleeping though the night–10pm to 7am–every night. I can get plenty of sleep. I should be able to manage going back to work. And yet… the idea of it fills me with fear.

I really like being home. I really like having some time to work on small projects, to get the laundry done, to empty the dishwasher while I listen to a book on tape.

I really enjoy giving back to people. I feel like, since having my son, a part of myself that wants to give back as been reborn. That giving part of myself was such a huge piece of who I was before I started TTC. I didn’t realize at the time, but I totally shut that part down when we were trying to get pregnant, then dealing with our ectopic loss, then trying to get pregnant again, then having our first baby, then dealing with secondary infertility. And now that our family building journey is behind us, that part of myself has reawakened. Suddenly I am compelled to do things for others. I am clearly aware of how I would want to be treated and I am trying my darndest to treat people accordingly. Even here, I’m trying so hard to be a better commenter. I’m trying to link to at least one post on Mel’s Round Up every week. I’m trying to give back to this community, because for so long, this community has given so much to me.

I’m trying to give back to my family and my friends, who have been so, so good to me.

And the only reason I have the time or energy for all that is because I am not at work. As soon as I go back, I’ll be thrown into survival mode, and all these things I’m doing that make me feel good are going to be pushed to the back burner.

The next 4.5 months are going to be totally crazy. It’s going to be a challenge just to keep my head above water. I have no desire to be at school, which is going to make my time there even harder. I want to do more than the bare minimum to get by. I want to write posts and comment on them. I want to make things for my friends and family and gift those things, just because. I want to have the time to appreciate what I have in life, and let people see that appreciation.

Blerg. I’ll quit complaining. Like I said, I have no reason to. We are so, so lucky. We have the ideal care situation. I need to suck it up and face the music.

But it’s going to be hard. So, so, so, SO hard.

My last day of maternity leave

Well, this is it. Today I can say, I am going to work tomorrow. Wow. That really sucks to say. 😦

I was going to write this post throughout the day. Do little paragraphs about what I was doing. But the day is already over and I didn’t write anything. My last day with my daughter is done. Tomorrow morning I will officially be a working mom.

I know I might seem melodramatic with all of this woe-is-me, returning to work = armageddon, but really, this feels like a very big, life altering transition for me. I feel like when I was TTC I was waiting (and waiting, and waiting) to get pregnant. And when I was pregnant I was waiting to have my baby. And when I was on maternity leave I was waiting to go back to work. And now I’m going back to work and this is it. This is the end of the road. There are no more transition periods, I have arrived at my destination. When I start back at work I will be officially starting my new life. My new life as a working mother.

And being a working mother seems so much more complicated than being a stay at home mom. (I don’t know if I get to call myself that, as I was only home on maternity leave, but after almost six months at home, it felt like I was for a bit). I was already floundering quite a bit wearing all the hats required of me when I stayed home with Isa. At home I was a mother to my daughter, a partner to my spouse, a daughter to my parents, a friend to my friends, and a graduate student to my program. Now I have to add three more very time consuming roles to my life. Now I am all of those things but I’m also a teacher to my students, an employee to my principal and an employer to my SIL (who is taking care of Isa). The only hat I will soon be able to let go of is that of graduate student, and while that is a very heavy hat indeed, one that fell into my eyes and hurt my head, the three new hats I need to accommodate feel like that will quickly take the place, and then some, of my burdensome graduate school hat.

Okay, this hat metaphor is tired but I hope I made my point. I just feel overwhelmed by how many people will be depending on me and how screwed I (they) would be if I (shock! horror!) were sick or just generally not up to all that responsibility. I feel like my the lives of so many people are riding on my shoulders and that is an incredible amount of pressure. I mean, I’m just one woman – how can I possibly juggle all these roles and responsibilities? It’s nerve wracking.

Today my daughter seemed out of sorts. She didn’t chat as much, didn’t laugh as easily. By the end of the day she was a wreck. I wonder if she knows, if she can sense my reluctance. I wonder if she’s feeling as ambivalent about this change as I am, even though there is no way she could know of it’s imminent inevitability. My poor baby girl. I know this is going to be hard on her. But I also know it will be harder on me.

I’m in the middle of three loads of laundry. I’m stripping my cloth diapers. I wrote Isa’s schedule down and then I wrote another one for when the first one isn’t applicable. I posted a page for where all the cloth diapers and their trimmings go above the changing table. I went to Old Na.vy and stocked up on 6-12 month long sleeved onsies and warm pants for my little girl. My mom is bringing my lunch to school tomorrow (thanks mom!) and I have my bag packed, with shiny new supplies fresh from Office.Depot. My pump is already in my room, ready for a session tonight and then ready for its first real day on the job. I proof-read my entire 65 page paper and feel confident about turning the rough draft in today. I guess I’m as ready as I’ll ever be to start my new life tomorrow. My new life as a working mom. I don’t really have much choice about whether I get to take the path of the working mom or the stay at home mom, so I hope I don’t mind this path too much. I guess I’ll never know until I take my first step…

And besides, it’s still the path of a mother, and that is all I’ve ever wanted to be. I need to keep reminding myself of how lucky I am to have this be such a difficult day. I truly am blessed to be walking down any path through motherhood, and I am forever grateful.


This is really hard

I guess I can follow up a thankful post with a woe is me post, right? That’s not horrible form is it? The reality is, I don’t have much else in me right now. (Funnily enough, I just got a comment where someone mentioned laughing at the fact that my Thankful Post was following a Grumpiness Post. Following and followed by I guess… 😉

I also don’t have much time, so this should be brief, very, very brief. (But it’s not)

I just need to acknowledge the intensity of this horrible, horrible week. Because I feel like this might be the hardest week of my life, at least the hardest that doesn’t involve a tragic loss. I know those are harder and I am so thankful that I’m not enduring some kind of heartwrenching loss, but really, I feel like barring some horrible tragedy, this week could not get much worse.

There are three things going on this week that would make it incredibly hard, in and of themselves. I could manage any of them on their own, but together they have wrought a perfect storm. A perfect shit storm,

The first thing is this graduate school project, from this moment on referred to as the Behemoth. The Behemoth really is, well, a behemoth. The bastard is already 40 pages in 10 font, 1.5 spacing. It will probably pass 60 pages by a significant amount. It involves over 72 prompts, the majority of which are vague, poorly worded and confusing. My professor is basically unreachable and never responds to my emails. Working on this inspires an anger and frustrating that I have never felt before. It’s the most difficult thing I’ve been asked to do, professionally, and also the least understandable. It’s incredibly difficult and is requiring 5+ hours a day to finish on time. I feel like every day I retreat a bit further from the front lines and in the end I’ll have fallen back so far, I will have lost all tactical advantage and my cause will be, quite literally, hopeless. Unfortunately, I’ve already messed up quite substantially on three other, smaller assignments, so I have no cushion to fall back on for this one. If I get a subpar grade I will not pass this class.

As if that weren’t enough, I’m also preparing (or should be) for my return to work in five days. Both emotionally and practically, this is a harrowing task. Emotionally there isn’t so much I can actively do, but it’s definitely making it hard to do other things. I’m constantly feeling sad, depressed and despondent. I’m crying at the drop of a hat (or a spontaneous smile from my daughter). Spending the last week at home with my daughter doing all this other shit is really, really, tearing me apart at my very core. On the practical side I have done NOT ONE THING to prepare for my return to work. I have not decided on lesson plans for the first week, let alone made handouts or copies to implement those lesson plans. This year I have five different preps which means I need to think of five separate activities for each day next week. That is 15 different 50 minute activities. I haven’t even scratched the surface of this task yet. Plus, my room has been “lived in” by a stranger for the past trimester and if it looks anything like I did when I visited last month, I have a lot of organizing to do. While I’m just starting the year, my students have been there, evidently suffering, for the past three months and they will be bouncing off the walls when I return. It’s a difficult situation even when I have time to prepare for it, but I literally do not have that time at all. I have my mother watching my daughter most of tomorrow, so I can go to my room and get ready (the kids have tomorrow off) but I now see I’ll have to spend many hours of that tackling the Behemoth so I truly don’t know how I will get anything done. When I think about going back to work I get mini panic attacks; my chest gets tight and I feel bile rising in my throat, threatening to choke me. It’s a horrible feeling and leaves me exhausted in it’s wake.

Finally, I’m sick and caring for a five month old, while trying not to pass on my scourge while still showering her with affection. This cold I have is brutal and I can’t take anything for it because I’m breastfeeding. My husband got it and has taken two days of off work, and is spending them lounging on the couch. I can’t take any days off and I have to power through without much needed rest. It’s difficult.

Today I went to my last City College Mom and Me class. I teared up during the singing section. I teared up when it came my turn to talk. I couldn’t say proper goodbyes because I was already crying.

I cried most of the way home, talking to my mother.

But then I took a nap, nestled warmly with my daughter in my bed. Those naps, the two of us together, side by side, keeping each other warm, have been my favorite thing these past months. It was nice to share one more with her. And I feel rested and recharged. Ready. Ready to finish this post (that I started at 6:30am this morning). Ready to tackle at least three more prompts in the Behemoth. Ready to wake up tomorrow and tentatively turn the key to my classroom, thus making my return to work a reality.

Ah, what a difference a nap makes.

Maybe I can do this after all…

BUENAS NOTICIAS – I ordered a hot apple cider and it’s warming me up inside. The temperature dropped significantly today, it finally feels like winter – just in time for the holidays.

Thoughtful Thursdays: Drowning

I have two little placards that hang above my desk (over a Lucha Libre poster, but that is another story). One says, Breathe… The other says, Don’t believe everything you think. Both are important messages for me right now.

Last night I had an online grad school class. I forgot about it, and “showed up” 30 minutes late. We were reviewing (literally reading over in their entirety) the rough drafts of the first part of this big project we’re working on. The second student had hers posted and they were reviewing it. The teacher was going through section by section and giving her notes. It took me about five seconds to realize I had misinterpreted the assignment and had a significant amount of work to do to rectify the situation. (I also realized it was going to be no fun when I had to post my own rough draft). This misinterpretation also extended to the portion that is due this coming Sunday, which meant I needed to find way more time to work on the next part than I originally thought. All of this equals me having a lot more work to do, which also equals me not seeing Isa very much in my last week at home.

And this just breaks me heart. Breaks it. Into a million pieces.

A broken heart so easily distracts a tired, disengaged brain. Hence my writing this post instead of using valuable napping hours (yes, I said it, napping hours!) to work.

I keep thinking, I can’t do this. I can’t possibly finish this in time. I can’t redo what I’ve done, and do everything else coming up in just the little scraps of the day here and there. I can’t find enough people to watch Isa. I can’t plan for FIVE DIFFERENT PREPS for the week after Thanksgiving (and the week after that, and the week after that). I can’t plan to start my school year, undoing a semester with a shitty sub. I can’t be ready to go back to work at all. I can’t stop thinking of my daughter when all I want to do is soak up these last days with her. I CAN’T DO IT.

Then I go back to the placards. Don’t believe everything you think.

And the ever important, Breathe…

The reality is, I can do it, and I will. I know I’ve had more time at home with my daughter than most working moms. I know I’m VERY lucky for what I’ve had. I know this.

But I still want more. I’m greedy. I want to be with her every day, always. It hurst my heart to think of all the hours in the next week I’ll have to say goodbye and not be with her. Especially when the following week I won’t even get to say goodbye. And I’ll only have two hours with her each day when I get home. It’s so hard.

You know what my therapist would say right now, Sometimes life sucks. Sometimes it’s really hard. There’s nothing you can do about it except get it done.

So I guess that’s what I’ll do, get it done. But I’ll be kicking, and screaming, and sulking and crying the whole time.

BUENAS NOTICIAS – I was told I finally got cleared for my raise! I’m getting a $6,000 raise this year, due to my grad school (and some other) credits. Needless to say, with my time off and child care, we REALLY need that money right now.

Thoughtful Thursdays: Dreading it

Today I found out that my cousin has left her job (as a teacher) to stay home with her daughter. I have to admit, I’m feeling pretty jealous. I wish I could stay home with Isa. Knowing that my cousin will be home all year with her daughter makes me realize how much I’ll be missing while I’m away.

I oscillate dramatically in my feelings about returning to work. For the first three months I cried almost every time I thought about it. I was sure it was the worst thing I’d ever have to endure; I felt desperately sad, and many times angry, when I thought about going back.

At around 4 months the days started feeling longer and more monotonous. I was beginning to wonder if it might be okay to go back to work, if I might actually appreciate being out in the world again, returning to spend three or four hours of intense time with my daughter. While I knew that the best case scenario would be a part time position of some kind, I hoped that I would not loathe being back at work full time. There were even moments I was eager to return to work. Of course these moments occurred over a month before my return, but I hoped that excitement would linger as my start date crept closer.

But as the month of my return to work looms large I’m starting to panic once again. I can’t believe how much I’m going to miss. I can’t accept that someone else will spend more of her waking hours with her than I will. I can’t stand that my daughter might actually want to be with her aunt than with me. It’s just too much, it’s just too overwhelming, it’s just too disappointing.

The thing is I don’t have a choice. I have to go back to work. I have to work full time so I can pass most of my check right along to my child care provider and use the little bit that’s left to help pay the rent (and the insurance and the other bills and everything else). I have to leave my daughter every morning and drive 30 minutes to work and then I have to engage middle school students who’d rather be anywhere else, and then I have to grade papers and attend meetings before finally braving traffic all the while wondering what my beautiful daughter is doing without me. All the while asking myself how many times has she smiled today? How many giggles have escaped her lips? How many firsts took place in my absence? How many milestones did my sister-in-law hide from me so I’ll think, when I see them, that they’re happening for the first time? How much of her precious little life passed me by today?

My friend told me that life is hard and there are difficulties we just have to endure. I guess, in the end, that is what it comes down to. This is a difficulty I have to endure. I’m not going to like it, in fact, I’m going to loathe it, but that is beside the point. I’m going to have to live with it and maybe even try to make the best of it. What do I preach on Mindful Mondays? About impermanence and acceptance… I guess I’m going to have to give those a try even when returning to work tears me up inside.

BUENAS NOTICIAS – I kind of let “Buenas Noticias” (Good News) fall by the wayside but I want to pick it back up again. And today I have very good news to share. A good friend of mine at work, whose been trying to have a baby for over eight years, was matched for an adoption today. Her little baby boy is six months old and waiting for her in Korea. They should be able to bring him home in four to six months but they are hoping to do so sooner. I’m SOOOOO happy for her and her husband. They will be such amazing parents. I can’t wait to meet their beautiful baby boy.

Maternity Leave

In many ways, today was my first day of maternity leave. Although I had my baby on the Monday of the last week of school and missed the rest of the week, I didn’t feel like that was maternity leave as I immediately started summer and would have been off anyway.

I worked this past Friday and yesterday and the day before. These staff work days were important because they allowed me to collaborate with my long term substitute and get my room ready for my new schedule. My position changed drastically this year; I went from being a Spanish teacher to being a teacher who teaches what needs to be taught, including just two Spanish classes. Because of this change my old system is obsolete. I spent two days throwing away a system I spent years making. It was sad. I love my school and my staff but I don’t know what kind of future I have at a school that has stripped my program down to nothing. I won’t be surprised if I leave when if I have another child and don’t return to my current school.

Right now though, I do plan to come back to work. First trimester ends at the Thanksgiving break. I will return after Thanksgiving for the second trimester. To me, the school year starts then. I will come in and do all my normal beginning of the year things. To everyone else it started today. I can’t believe someone else was in my room today, greeting my students and handing out all the information. Parents were greeted this evening, at Back To School Night, by someone else. For a Type A personality like me, who takes my position very seriously, who cares very much for her students, it’s difficult. I’m so happy to be at home with my daughter, enjoying her smiles and getting to know her as her personality emerges. At the same time, it’s difficult to relinquish power at school. That is also an important part of my life.

Today I start my three month stint of maternity leave. It’s very different from this summer because now I’m home alone, with no one to visit and nothing I have to do. I have plans for the house and I eventually need to get started on some grad school work but right now, I’m just hanging out. I’m curious to see how I feel about staying at home with Isa. I’m scared that I won’t like being at home and I’m terrified that I’ll love it. Luckily, if I don’t like being at home, it’s only for three months, and I could be back in two (my child care starts being available at the end of October). I doubt I’ll hate being at home, in fact I’m much more worried that I’ll love being at home and that returning to work will be incredibly difficult. That is my true fear. Even if that happens, I’ll only have six and half months to endure at work, four weeks of which I’m on vacation. I can make it through five and a half months of work, even if I hate it. And if I really, really hate being back at work, I can find a way to stay at home the following year.

I’m so lucky that I can stay home for this long. My daughter will be six months old when I go back to work. So many people go back earlier than that. So many are forced back to work after only a couple of months. I hope I remember to cherish every day that I’m home with my daughter. I hope I make the most of this time with her. I’ll never have an opportunity like this again and I don’t want to flaunt it.

BUENAS NOTICIAS – We’ve been having a heat wave in the Bay Area and yesterday I took Isa swimming for the first time. I blew on her face and dunked her three times. She seemed startled, but not upset. I hope she loves swimming and is comfortable in the water, just like her mom.