I went back to work at two weeks postpartum. Two weeks. I worked until the day my water broke (and I was scheduled to work that day too). Granted, I’m working from home, and I’m working only fifteen hours a week, but it’s still work (rather cerebral work at that), and it’s still something for which I have to find time and headspace. Monday through Friday, I am constantly looking for three hours in the day, three hours when I can focus my thoughts and get to work. I am finding that isn’t as easy as it may sound.
Yes, I do have my wife here to help me out, and most days, she takes our son to another room while I attempt to work. She even takes a bottle of expressed milk, and they go and do their thing. Sounds great, right? Not really. In fact, most days, Baby Genius insists on having some milk from the tap after he has decimated his bottle and his Mama’s nerves. So I nurse him and try to type one-handed and try to think about writing pedagogy–and I fail.
I thought at first that this would get a little easier with time. At first, our son slept quite a bit during the day, so I was able to fit work in during his naps, and I thought that would continue to be the case, but it hasn’t. He rarely sleeps longer than forty minutes at a time, which is about enough time for me to find a small amount of focus before needing to tend to him again.
And that focus issue is really the problem here. I was not ready to go back to work at two weeks postpartum, and as a result, I’m not ready to be back at work at ten weeks postpartum. I want the luxury of maternity leave, to be able to focus on nothing but learning to be a mom and nurturing my family. But that three hours a day keeps me from doing that. It’s always looming over my head, and I just don’t want it. I want a break.
I don’t mean to whine. I’m lucky I don’t have to put my son in daycare or go back to a job outside of my home, but I’m still not ready to be back, and I’m struggling in so many ways because of it. It’s causing tension in my relationship; it’s causing me to feel endless guilt and anger when I can’t immediately go to my crying son because I’m busy helping a college student craft a better thesis statement for an essay comparing and contrasting city life and country life. It’s causing me to completely resent my work, and it’s causing my performance to suffer greatly. But I have to keep going because we can’t afford to lose the paycheck.
There is a bit of respite on its way. I only recently learned about California’s Pa.id Fa.mily Leave–essentially six weeks of unemployment for new parents–and I think I’m going to take it soon to give myself a taste of that maternity leave I have needed. But I can’t help but wish it was more.
I’m beginning to think we need to move to a commune where we can work in trades and raise our kids and blog about how awesome commune living is. Anyone out there care to start one with us?