I used to be on time to things, painfully early as a matter of fact. In college, if I got invited to a party, I would get ready way too early and drive around the block a few times or park and sit. Eventually I’d go inside and offer to help put chips in bowls. I was 40 minutes early to my first date with my husband. Thankfully, so was he. A match made in heaven.
Since I’ve had a baby, I no longer am early to things, in fact, I’m not even on time. Motherhood has blessed me with the gift of being fashionably late, the cool move I never seemed to get the hang of back in my party-going days. (Those are dead and gone now, of course).
It’s completely new for me to be running late, or to forget an engagement altogether, and I am more than a little worried about going back to work…and getting there on time. Just the logistics alone are throwing me for a loop. How do I get to work by 7:15 a.m. after a morning of nursing, pumping, and attempting to make myself look somewhat presentable?
Then there are the emotions. I am pretty much just one large nerve ending, with my emotional intensity cranked up to eleven. The concept of leaving my 12-week-old, new, tiny human that I made cell by cell—every eyelash, every fingerprint, every knuckle dimple—is nonsense to me. I’m busy watching my daughter develop each and every day. Of course I feel guilty and sad about stepping away from her and leaving her in the caring hands of another. But I trust that everything is going to be ok.
I’m a Montessori preschool teacher and I work in a community surrounded by other like-minded mamas. Many of my coworkers are mothers and have been in my shoes. I also know it’s important for my child to be with other caregivers. And those caregivers will be my parents, her bubby and zayde.
In addition to my day job, on Saturday mornings I run the toddler program at our temple. The benefits of being able to bring my daughter along are numerous. While she won’t remember being there at this age, these experiences are becoming a part of her. The sights and sounds of the synagogue will help form her Jewish life.
It is also a chance for us to be together and a chance for her to meet children she may grow up with. Some of the parents in the toddler class I teach are people I’ve known since grade school. I brought her with me on my first Saturday back, along with my sweet, tired husband. It wasn’t easy, but it also wasn’t as hard as I thought it might be. I was able to tend to the needs of the families as well as my daughter.
Being away renewed my desire to teach in a way. It reminded me of why I chose this field. I love my child, and I also love working with all children. As a teacher, I learn things that are not only applicable at my job, but are also things I can bring home with me. Anything I try to instill in my students, I also want to instill in my child.
It’s hard to imagine going back to work. It hurts and feels unnatural in some ways, but I know I will use fresh eyes of motherhood to see my students in a new light. I know my parents will love up their grandchild every day while I’m gone. The time I have with my daughter will become even more precious and special. There will be growing pains and a new normal to adjust to, but I know we will get there. I have a supportive community of fellow parents to lean on, and for that I feel blessed.