The 11 Stages of Returning to Work as a New Mom

I just recently returned to work part-time. With children, ironically. I mean, there’s adults, but I tutor, so I went from asking my newborn son how he ¬†slept the night before (not that he could answer me. I’m in it for the smiles) to asking third and fourth graders how they slept the night before (they will tell you how they slept, how they ate, how they played, who they fought with, why it isn’t fair they have to read over the summer, when they get to play again, who they are seeing after they’re done with me, why they hate this book we’re reading…).

I’d heard that returning to work, even part time, would feel amazing. That I would enjoy the small amount of time away from the baby and I could get a little bit of independence back again.

Getting dressed to be somewhere again was fun; picking out a dress, deciding on earrings, wearing makeup (gasp).

And I did feel as if this might be healthy time spent away from Ben, where I could regain some of my Angela-ness, maybe even enjoy myself a little, but this came only after a waterfall of other emotions.

They began in the car, and I have a hefty commute to work, so I had just a wonderful amount of time to panic.

Here’s a breakdown of my emotions upon returning to work:

Anxiety

How am I supposed to work with other children that are not my own? How am I supposed to care? How am I supposed to leave Ben at home? What if he needs me? What if there’s an emergency and I’m too far away? What if there’s a town evacuation and I can’t be there? What if…

Terror

What if I have lost my ability/talent/any scrap of skill I had ever once had to teach, or to interact with people in general? What if the kids complain to their parents that I’m a terrible tutor and I get fired and then blacklisted at all tutoring companies/work places, period?

Guilt

Oh my God, I’m leaving my tiny little boy at home. He’s not even able to hold his head up by himself and I’m at work?!

Annoyance

Goddddddaaaa. Why do I even need to work anyway? We can do without more stuff. I can live without, like, light bulbs and cereal for awhile.

Guilt, again

I’m a terrible mother. I should’ve saved enough money to live without working for the next fifteen years. Why didn’t I plan this right? Irresponsible. It’s because I’m irresponsible.

Brief Depression

Ben isn’t going to recognize my face when I get home. He isn’t going to have a mother today. He’s going to think I’ve left him. Why am I crying on the highway?! I can’t see ANYTHING.

Delusion

I’m thinking maybe we start a commune. I’m thinking home school, organic gardens, some sewing, a couple of goats. That way, I’ll never have to leave home. Ever again.

I can make this work.

The Return of Social Skills

Whoa, there’s people here at this place of business. I need to speak now. Words are leaving my mouth, but are they making sense?

Is it just me, or am I more affable than before? I am just a delight, aren’t I? Did I tell a killer joke that was both profound yet topical just now?

Yes. Yes I did.

Brief Elation

Obviously, I am Queen. I can literally do anything. Give me children to tutor. Send me traffic to travel in. Shove angry parents my way that need to be reassured their child will not retake 3rd grade. Throw books at me with complicated, old-timey language that needs to be translated to energetic middle school students.

I can crush this job in. my. sleep.

Slight Deflation

Why aren’t we talking about me right now? Let’s look at Ben again! Want to see another picture of him? Video, then? No?

Ugh. I forgot this is a job. And that I have to work at it.

Acceptance

I do not love that I am not independently rich. I would really love a full time nanny in the house, just to, like, be there if I need her, but not take over and be Ben’s make-shift mom. Like, help and jump in why don’t you, but don’t help too much, you know? I’m still mom. Support me, is what I’m saying.

It’s okay I’m back at work a little. I don’t have to be in love with it, but it’s okay if I like it again. I don’t need to feel bad about having a life outside of Ben. I think.

I’ll get there.

 

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