Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Happy Cup

This Sunday in my Sunday School class, our teacher had us pass around a styrofoam cup and indicate on it how full our "cup" was. Mine was actually the fullest in the class - a little over half full. The teacher was surprised, she said she figured I would be "running on empty" with our life being as chaotic as it has recently, but actually, I'm happy! I enjoy my babies, and I enjoy being home. Life is admittedly stressful, but it is a happy stress. Tim said he agreed. He rated his cup at 85% full.

One of the things that makes me feel slightly down, though, is the fact that I have to go back to work sometime this week.

The other night I dreamed that both sides of our families came to visit, and I fed Israel and then laid him down for a nap, and then we all went out to eat at some nonexistent restaurant in our neighborhood, leaving Israel sleeping at home, alone. At the restaurant, I got caught up in conversation and lost track of the time, and all of a sudden I realized that I had been gone for 3 hours, and had never gone back to get Israel, who had been in the house alone. Knowing that he often only naps about 45 minutes at a time during the day, I became frantic in my dream, imagining him waking up and crying and no one being there to pick him up, and escalating into screaming, and nobody still being there. I rushed out of the restaurant and started running across lawns and streets, trying to get back to the house, only to be stopped by fences or other things in my path, until I finally got home to find out that everyone else had gotten there before me. Mom was carrying Israel around, and I searched his face so anxiously for traces of hysterical tears, thinking that it was just so unlikely that he had remained sleeping the entire time we had been gone, but his face had none of that tell-tale puffiness that follows his crying rants, and Mom said that he seemed fine. I could see he seemed alright, but still there was this pit of dread in my stomach that he might have woken up and cried and cried and cried, with no one to comfort him.

This dream contains the basic core of my anxiety of leaving him - fear of him crying and crying and crying and wanting his mommy, wanting to nurse for comfort, and I'm not there; feeling emotionally abandoned. I know that in reality this is not going to happen, since he has a very capable and loving daddy, but I can't help fearing it anyways.

I have see-sawed back and forth on how I feel about going back to work this time; with Gabe, I didn't have to go back until he was about 5 months old, and so I felt ready. And having done it once, it generally doesn't hold the same anxiety for me as it did the first time. I learned, with Gabe, that he would be fine, that he wouldn't cry the whole time I was gone, and most importantly to me - I would still fill the "mommy" role.

I have actually missed aspects of my job from the beginning of maternity leave. I love being a nurse. I love the challenges of time management, efficiency, prioritizing, and problem-solving. I love to have bunch of figurative balls in the air that I am stragetically juggling. On the other hand, I like being the one at home all the time with my kids. I like having more time to get my house in order, which is a challenging thing for me. However, reality is that my husband is a full-time student for another 5 months.

With Israel being physically bigger than Gabriel ever was at that age, he seems more sturdy and not so fragile as Gabe did, and that is another thing that makes it easier. But one thing that makes it harder is the fact that he is much "needier" than Gabriel ever was, and that he likes to nurse for comfort, and if I'm not there - then what?

It has helped for me to leave for an hour or two over the last week, leaving Tim here alone with both munchkins, and see that they are fine, even with an occasional hysteria from Israel. The good thing is that he drinks fine from a bottle, and calms with both that or a pacifier. After one or two successful 4 to 8 hour absences, I think I will have a lot of reassurance about leaving my baby. I just don't want my child to feel alone. The truth is that Tim will probably feel much more alone than the baby ever does! :) Even though I'm only working part-time, some of those 12 hour days will feel pret-ty loooonnng at home....

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I'm glad your happy cup is so full! Kids are so exhausting yet so happy making. I'll pray for your re-entry to the workforce- I know that "torn" feeling and the anxiety about leaving him. i'm so happy they can be with their daddy. Loved the mental image of you with 7 hairs too. Love you! Candice