Sunday, November 19, 2006

Forest for the Trees

I'm back at work.  Granted, full-time for me doesn't look much like it does for other folks--it's definitely not 9-to-5, anyway.  Full-time for me could mean two hours at 7 in the morning, 3 at 9 o'clock at night, 10 on a Sunday.  Hours here, hours there.  But I typically get my 40 in and then some.  I'm not teaching classes this semester, but there still seems to be plenty on my to-do list.  My to-do list is not on family leave.

Eric has every other Friday off, and so he's been watching the girls on Fridays and also on Sundays while I'm at work.  He has been amazingly supportive of my needing to work these days, even though both of us would much rather just enjoy the time off together at home, taking walks and going out for lunch.  Still, we agree that Nolie is still too little to be in daycare full-time, if we can avoid it.  So we work the weird schedule for now, and feel grateful that our jobs give us the flexibility so that she's only in daycare a few hours a week.

To be perfectly honest, though, those hours while the girls are at daycare or with Eric?  I need them.  I need to get out of the house.  After Addie was born, I was down right relieved to go back to work once she hit four months, not because I didn't want to spend the time with her, but because I felt aimless, purposeless without work.  After Nolie, on the other hand, I was more reluctant to go back.  Maybe time has mellowed me some, maybe having two kids just makes the logistics of getting out of the house a lot harder. 

But now that I'm back at work, I'm glad to be back.  I like my job.  I like how I feel after clearing out my inbox, planning a syllabus, or organizing a faculty seminar.  I like wearing clothes that aren't streaked with spit-up, smelling like rotten cheese.  I like blasting the radio in the car on the freeway on my way to work.

Still, I find I return home from a full day of work feeling utterly desperate to see my family.  I want to nurse Nolie, cuddle Addie, curl up on the couch with Eric.  This need is powerful and physical, feeling almost like a biological imperative.  I suppose a part of it is guilt at not being home with them all; another part of it is habit--you get so used to having these people hanging off of you, slobbering on you, loving you, that to be apart from them is both delirious freedom and gut-wrenching lack, void.  Mostly I just love these people, take delight in them, and want to be with them.

There is a sense of relief, though, that things are returning to "normal":  my body is assuming less cartoonish proportions; both girls go to bed at reasonable times, leaving me time to write, read, stretch, meditate, or watch crap t.v.; the days are organizing themselves into a comforting rhythm.  At least once a day I wonder at how lucky we are to be so blissfuly happy. 

Then, of course, both kids start screaming, and all of a sudden someone has pooped on the floor or is projectile vomiting, and the phone rings, and someone is at the door, all at once--a perfect storm, and my face feels like it's melting off.   But we get through it.  And life is good.

1 comment:

  1. The stress/joy cycle of family life can be very compressed for us. For instance, one minute you're trying to wash Gwen's hair and she's screaming her head off in protest. The next, you're cuddled with her and some Seuss, and she's saying the last word of each line with you as she looks up for confirmation.