being here

February 18, 2013

so, part of the huge slew of changes that happened with having a baby was a job switch. faithful readers might remember the burden of having to read thousands of posts about boredom when i was working a shitty receptionist job. and then they might remember reading 2 posts about me having my “dream job” (loosely interpreted) for about a year.

i suppose it is one of those cliché rites of passage into motherhood – reassessing what your work life will look like with a little one in tow. and i guess i already knew the end of the story even before edith was born, but, hey, we all have to figure things out at our own pace. i sort of assumed that i would be a superhuman who could faithfully and effectively manage to mother my child and mother my clients at the same time.

so i worked up until the day i went into labor with the plan that i would return part-time when edith was 3 months old and become full time when she was 7 months old. which, even when i was agreeing to it, made me sick to my stomach. this sickness, of course, swelled as my maternity leave dwindled. what had always been evident to those closest to me, now became more and more evident to me – that i was, in fact, no superhuman and the love i had for the people i was working with was only indicative of the insane love and devotion i would have to my own offspring. and at a certain point i needed to learn how to protect said offspring from the love-without-boundaries mode i tended to operate in with clients.

i had experienced hints of this epiphany throughout my pregnancy. say, when i was spending my nights off helping a client who was kicked out of the house pick all of her possessions off her front lawn and load it into the backseat of my car. or when i was holding screaming babies in the middle of domestic altercations that i felt at a loss to stop. or when i, you know, witnessed a shooting. the critter in my own belly would twist and squirm with uncharacteristic intensity and i would hear my own advice to my clients ringing in my ears: “your baby is affected by your stress!”

so when edith arrived and i was swimming through layers of postpartum depression and distress at knowing how to care for both her and i, it became apparent that i wasn’t going to be able to return to my old ways of operating anytime soon.

thus, two days before i was set to return to family focus, i accepted a job with a doula agency that would allow me to do postpartum work part time and largely based on availability that i chose.

and, as one might imagine, this decision has been a mixed bag for me. it’s VERY clear that i could never have handled going back to my old job. it’s also clear to me that what i want to do with my life is what i was doing at that job. and another burst of clarity is that i really don’t want to be working at all right now. but, life such as it is, means that we need a little money to keep us afloat and the best possible option is what is happening right now.

to be sure, this current job is a gift. i mostly work overnights so i’m with edith when she is awake. of course, this means i’m something of a zombie at times but i’m fairly sure that zombie-hood is synonymous with parent-hood whether you work at night or not. it is also, of course, difficult for me to be caring for other people’s babies when what i really want is just to be caring for my own.

but i’m not sure that i would be as present with edith, if i would savor each silly minute with her, if i didn’t experience the occasional distress of being away. the easiness of being with her is brightened in contrast to the difficulty of handling fussy babies. there is new joy and reverence to nursing her after spending a night struggling to bottlefeed someone else’s baby. i think a lot about women (particularly black women) who have historically had to spend all their time away from their own children in order to care for the children of others and  i’m grateful that my time away is as minimal as it is.

in the jumble of reflecting on where i’ve been and where i hope to be one day (reels which often run on repeat throughout the day), on all the permutations of balancing work and family that myself and others are living, i’m grateful for where we are. grateful to be home when i’m home, grateful for the change of scenery when i leave (or at least, grateful for the dollar bills the change of scenery provides), grateful for the constancy of sweetness that is my family.

grateful that this sweet face has a sweet personality to match. grateful that the multitudinous delight that we daily experience is only a glimmer of the expansive, beautiful being she is becoming.

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