Baby steps

March 1, 2006

Today, I take my first hesitant steps back out into the non-mommy world. They are really little steps, because it’s only a few hours a week, and it’s very short-term. But still.

I. Am. Stressed.

I’m going to complete the lectures for an undergraduate course that I was supposed to begin teaching in January but didn’t because I was too overwhelmed and FLIPPED OUT in the first weeks of Baby’s life. I was very busy battling hard to ward off the dark, dark spectre of PPD in those days, fighting off the Intrusive Thoughts and the gale of tears that threatened to swamp me every day and just generally struggling to keep tired head above water. Got through it, and life with Baby is now a lot more like steering a rowboat up a pleasant if rocky river than it is like keeping afloat on a stormy sea and that’s GREAT but seriously? That’s just mommy progress and it isn’t gonna help me back at the university facing a swarm of sullen undergraduates with last year’s lecture notes clutched in my unmanicured hands. (1)

To be honest, the whole lecturing thing – even though I haven’t had a lecture-appropriate thought in god-knows-how-long – doesn’t concern me all that much. I’m a good teacher, so far as I can tell from the grainy photocopies of student evaluations that I receive at the end of the school year (thnx professor!!! u r really good! u rock!) (2), and I’ve been studying this stuff for frickin’ long enough so I should be able to draw upon the resources that I’ve been acquiring over these many, many years. And? I sorta don’t care all that much if the little darlings don’t receive the best of me because a) I’ve seen many, many lecturers in my day and many if not most of them suck. Badly. And at risk of sounding stuck-up (tho’ I am that), I’m pretty sure that I’d have to work at it to suck as badly. And b) undergraduate students tend to be criminally ungrateful, so WTF should I shred my soul in an unsung effort to enlighten them? And, most pressingly, c) I’m too preoccupied with the fact that I’M ABANDONING THE BABY.

I’m leaving her in very good, experienced sister-in-law hands, and only for a few hours, and she’s going to love it because my god there will be cooing! Kisses! Non-stop holding! But still. Leaving the baby.

Mommy’s heart flutters. She didn’t think it would, she thought that she’d love this moment, she thought that the heart would race from the exhilaration of freedom. But she doesn’t, and it doesn’t, and the heart, instead, it flutters, and there is much wringing of the hands and she hopes that Baby knows that no matter how much Mommy pursues/clings to non-mommy things, her mommyness has become and will remain the most important thing she ever is or does.

I’m supposed to just walk away from Those Eyes?

———

1) University students in their late teens/early twenties are, with some very important exceptions, a singularly grubby and ungrateful lot, and so it is that I can’t really view this as labour of love, as did Jezer with her charming Grade-Fours. It’s an effort by me to hang on to part of my non-mommy/pre-mommy self, and to keep alive the hope that I will, one day, return to academic life, none-diminished by overwhelming obsessions with swaddling and fantasy nursery governments.

2) I’m not a professor; I’m an ‘Instructor.’ They don’t give you tenure-track jobs until you finish off those last chapters of that little thing called a dissertation.

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    { 6 comments }

    Chris and Jerry's Mommy March 1, 2006 at 4:23 pm

    I just read your comment on amalah (she’s great isn’t she?) and i need to catch up on your site, but I wanted to share with you this: I tried and tried hard to breastfeed. I bled, I cried and cried, I didn’t sleep, I got angry, I fought with my husband, I felt something was wrong with my little boy, he lost weight, etc. it was a terrible start. I went to a lactation consultant who set forth a near impossible plan of attack. I cried more. Then I thought, I have to quit… it was too stressful. I told my husband that I’m quitting and was bawling my eyes out and he said, “it’s okay, plenty of babies are formula fed and they’re fine (including both of us)”. At that point, when I realized I wasn’t a terrible person for quitting, a weight was lifted off my shoulders and the breastfeeding picked up! I didn’t know how to stop and soon after, he became 100% breastfed. I don’t know if he’s just older now or if I’m a happier person, but he seems like so much a happier baby now than during those stressful times.

    I can’t wait to catch up on your blog.

    Trina March 1, 2006 at 4:25 pm

    Well I can completely see why you would be torn about leaving that little dumpling…hehehe I have a little guy that was born on Nov. 20. He’s my fifth but just as delicious! I hope your day went well. Loved your writing!

    Jezer March 1, 2006 at 6:38 pm

    Maybe, if you’re like me, you’ll find that returning to your Other World is actually OK (not blow-your-socks-off wonderful, but not hellish). And then, if you’re like me, you’ll feel guilty for not being completely torn up about it. Of course, you’ll miss those gorgeous eyes and that beautiful perfect fuzzy head while you’re away, but the reunion at the end of the day will be oh, so sweet.

    I’ll be thinking of you.

    Christina March 1, 2006 at 6:42 pm

    Leaving them that first time is the hardest. When I had to put Cordy in daycare (when I worked full-time), I cried and cried the first day. It was my first time away from her, and I was heartbroken.

    Now? Now we’re planning a long-weekend get-away that involves my mom staying home with the child. Woo-hoo! I mean, I’ll miss her a lot, but the sleep, oh, the sleep!

    mavvric March 2, 2006 at 11:31 am

    Awww…what a cute picture of her! I know leaving her will be rough, but at least you know there is a light at the end of the tunnel – it’s just a temporary job, and then you can go back to spending your days cleaning up Baby spit-up and looking into those adorable little eyes!! Go kick some undergrad ass! :-)

    Her Bad Mother March 3, 2006 at 11:57 am

    Thanks so much for all the good thoughts. It all went pretty well, and it *was* so good to come home to her. Good to realize that it can be both good to go and good to come home; that I can miss her like crazy and still be happy.

    Liza – thanks for the breastfeeding share. That was almost exactly my experience, and it’s so good to know that I wasn’t alone in it.

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