Thursday, November 29, 2007

Thoughts on returning to work

While I don't "officially" go back to work until January, I am "unofficially" going back to work full-time next week. I decided on that date months ago. At the time, it seemed like a long, long way away.

I can't believe it's here already.

I have to admit that I've been looking forward to returning to work for a while now. I've loved being home with Baby Jane and feel so fortunate that I was able to stay home with her as long as I did. I wouldn't trade that time for anything in the world. Even though some days seemed like eternities and sometimes the sheer drudgery of taking care of an infant day in and day out made me contemplate jumping out the nearest window. Recently, I've been increasingly frustrated by only having small chunks of time to get work done---I have so many ideas and things I want to get cracking on, but such limited time in which to do them. Besides, I miss thinking for a living. (Not that taking care of a baby doesn't require thinking, but it's a totally different kind of thinking.) So yeah, in theory I'm so ready to go back.

But the reality of only having one more weekday at home with her is breaking my heart a bit. Ok, a lot. We'll both have to get used to a new routine---her at day care, me at school. No more midday snuggles during feedings. No more afternoon walks or trips to the mall or library. No more sneaking in to her room to watch her as she naps. Sure, we'll still have weekends, but I'll have to share her with Mr. Jane then.

I don't know what Monday will feel like. Unfortunately, I have day care drop-off duty (Mr. Jane gets to pick her up every day), which is probably the worst possible thing for me, emotionally. I thought briefly about working from home that day, but I figured it would be way too hard to get anything done with all the reminders of Baby Jane around. So I will drop her off and head to school and try to get something worthwhile done that day.

Maybe it will be fine. Maybe I won't cry at all. Maybe I'll cry all the way to school, and then be fine. Maybe I'll count the hours until she and I are both home.

God, I can't imagine what I'd be going through right now if I was at all ambivalent about going back to work.


Dr. Shellie said...

Wow. Good luck. It sounds like what you're looking for is a mix of time with your baby and time to work. Too bad academia doesn't usually give the option of part-time working hours.

coquette said...

Delurking here to say it may not be as all-or-nothing as you envision.

Admittedly I'm in a different field, but I've been able to carve out one weekday (or at least part of a weekday) each week to hang out with my son. So far, I'm keeping up with tenure requirements, although I've let some other things slide (like housework and a social life).

It requires working some nights, but I was able to find a balance that worked. I hope you can too.

Good luck!

ScienceWoman said...

Going back to work is really hard, even if intellectually you are really looking forward to it. Since the semester doesn't start for a few weeks, can you work part-time for the interim. It might be easier on both you and Baby Jane.

And don't feel bad if you cry when you drop her off. We all do at first.

Erin said...

Good luck! Don't worry if it's a rough day. Maybe you can give yourself permission to go visit her (especially if you have the excuse of nursing her) or else plan to pick her up a couple of hours early a few days that week. That really helped me adjust at first. It got easier (for me) after the first week, but that first day was especially hard.

MommyProf said...

Bless you - it is very hard. Very, very hard. It does get better, and if you can visit during the day to feed her, that is a great help.

ScienceMama said...

I cried the first day back at work. And I called. Twice. But it actually went smoother than I ever imagined it would because I had a busy first day back. I hope your first day will be busy too (are you going to be pumping?). And also, since you're going back to work "early" can you ease into full time? Start with a 6 hour day the first day or two?

Good luck!

Jane said...

Thanks, everyone! Definitely part of the reason for going back now was so that I could ease back in a bit. So I probably will be working days that are closer to 6 hours than 8 hours, at least that first week. Visiting during the day is not feasible, but I actually think that will make the adjustment easier for both of us. And yes, I *am* planning a full/busy day that first day so that I can do my best to keep my mind off of things!

I probably will have some time once classes start to either come home early or go in late at least one day a week, plus I work at home one day, so I will get some quality time with Baby Jane during the week, too.

Rebecca said...

I went back to work when my son was eight weeks old. Of course, my situation was different too because my husband is a stay-at-home dad. I started back to work for a half-day on a Thursday and then a full day the next day, giving me a way to kind of ramp up to working again.

I found the hard part was not leaving him, but rather trying to get back into things. I'd missed only eight weeks of work, but it may as well have been a year. It took me several months before I finally felt like I had accomplished anything at work.

I've found that missing him is a big motivator at work. I don't fiddle around or waste nearly as much time as I used to, because I want to get home and see my son!

ScienceMama said...

How's your first day back going?

Jane said...

Rebecca, you are so right about getting back into the rhythm of working---that was surprisingly the hardest part of today.

sciencemama, see today's post for details!