This week I started student teaching, the last step in the masters program I’ve been in for the past two years. I have known this was coming. Since having Baby Love I was not looking forward to it. But I do love being in the classroom, so I thought it would be ok.
I was wrong.
I haven’t cried. I get to leave while Baby Love is still sleeping, so no tearful goodbyes. While I’m at school I’m busy and happy working with the kids. It’s been surprisingly easy to leave her.
And that is much of what I hate.
I’m gone for most of her waking life now. I miss SO MUCH. If this was all I knew, it would be fine. I do see her awake every day. But comparing it to what I had? What I’m missing is painfully obvious and huge.
People say it will get better. The thing is, I don’t want it to. I don’t want this to be my new normal. I don’t want to get accustomed to missing most of Baby Love’s life. For me, this is not what I want in being a parent.
People told me I would appreciate the time I had with her more. But I don’t. The time feels exactly the same, even now when I’m feeling extra tender; there is just less of it. If anything, I cherish the time less, because I feel like I have to cram more extraneous stuff into it. I need to go to the store, do laundry, run, cook dinner, etc., but now instead of having all day I have a few short hours. Before I was enjoying our pace and fitting things in as I could, now I am less patient because I feel I have to be more efficient.
And on top of that, I need time to decompress from work. I hear working moms say that when they work some they are better moms because they feel more able to be fully present to their kids when they are there. For me, it’s the opposite. Maybe because of my invisible illnesses that made it impossible for me to keep my engineering job, but I cannot be fully present at home when I give all my spoons to work.
Before baby, I thought when I was a SAHM it would be boring. I thought I’d need part time work to feel sane. But I don’t think I do now. My days were full and satisfying. Watching Baby Love grow was amazing, and it just kept getting better. I wasn’t looking for a way out. I wasn’t needing accomplishment elsewhere.
I have a wonderful husband who fully supports me in throwing away this degree for awhile (or forever) and not working once I have it. So I only have the next 13 weeks to get through before I am done for the forseeable future. Done being gone all day. Done missing her time awake. Done missing all the little details of her life. Done giving her my leftover time.
I can try to get through that time. I can look forward to when I am home with her all day again. I can give up on all else, like cleaning and running, so I can give as much as possible to her. But the fact remains I will still miss most of her waking time.
And there is nothing, nothing, I can do to get these 14 weeks back.
And I hate that.
Today my mind was going around in circles trying to find a solution. A way to make both things work. And I couldn’t. There isn’t one.
I will miss the last third of her babyhood. At least, I will miss it in the intimate way I have known the rest of her life, and by a long shot. And there is nothing I can do about it.
I know this sounds silly. I’m sure if I read words like this two years ago I would have rolled my eyes and thought the author was pathetic and needed a life outside of her kid.
But you know what? I love my kid being my life right now. She won’t always be. As my mother tells me, parenthood is a series of letting-gos. Baby Love will grow, she will get more independent, she will need me less, and eventually she will move out and have her own life which I will be only a small part of. And that is right and good. But right now, my baby needs me fully. I am her life, and she is mine. This time is short, it is fleeting, and I want to live it fully.
So I will get through these next thirteen weeks. I won’t count them down, because I don’t want to miss what I do have of Baby Love’s days in the meantime. But I look forward to when I can leave the workplace and she can return to being my world.
Because one thing I have learned about myself since having her, something I would never have thought to be true before she was here, is that, at least for now, I am totally and completely fulfilled being “just” a stay-at-home-mom.