I went back to work last week. It’s only 10 hours a week, but it’s in an office, dressed in nice clothes, with no one trying to climb into my lap. Yet.
This new arrangement causes quite a few logistical difficulties due to the one car and the geographical remove from bus lines compared to previous residences and the working 8-1 without a lunch break after which I get on a bus where they do not allow food. Gah.
But I like being back at work. I like it mostly because I am extremely good at it, and everyone knows it, and when I do screw up, I hear about it immediately and in detail, and I don’t take it personally, and then I fix it. Same goes for everyone else I work with. What we do is too high stakes to let your ego get in the way of getting it right. So I’m not constantly worrying that I’ve done something horribly wrong but I won’t find out about it until later, unlike the other job I have where I work from home. It’s much more comfortable in the environment where I know I’m doing a good job. Like being a mom, which I know I rock at, even though I find it profoundly boring and frustrating quite often at this stage in Boy Detective’s development.
I know it’s common to feel guilt about putting yourself first or worry about whether you’re a good enough parent or try to do everything and feel bad about not being able to do the supermom thing, but I don’t. My main concerns are figuring out when Boy Detective will stop waking me up at night and how to carve out enough time that I can do what I want to do, which currently does not include cooking or making the guest room usable.
Seriously, Boy Detective is just fine. He doesn’t need me to do anything more than I’m doing, and he’d probably be fine if I did even less. He walks, we’re pretty sure he tried to say banana the other day and managed “ad-na,” and he’s a happy guy except when he’s growing more teeth. It’s not that I don’t sacrifice for him – hello, sleepless nights, and does anyone remember the three months of my life when I sat in a rocking chair for 3-7 hours a day because he wouldn’t nap anywhere but in my lap? I’m glad that I’m still nursing him as his first birthday rolls around, I’m glad that last week when I was gone for 7 hours it was the longest I’d ever been away from him, and I’m glad that he gets organic food and safe wooden toys and we read to him and all that. He has three primary caretakers who love him, and he gets mostly organic food, milk, medical care, clean clothes, trips to the park and the library (and holy Costco), plus lots of cuddles.
I never doubt that since I had a primary role in providing this wonderland for the last year, I’m a darn good mom. Scratch that, an awesome mom. Perhaps this is because I used to do street outreach to homeless adolescents with horrible childhoods so my baseline is lower, or perhaps my anti-consumerism extends to those who want to sell me the idea that I have do more, more, more to make sure my child is smart, healthy, happy, and ahead of everyone else.
But I’m not interested in baby signs and special enrichment games and music classes and learning this week’s tip on how to stimulate your baby’s social development, so I’m not gonna, and I’m not going to feel bad about it. My MIL got me a book on children’s language development, but honestly I couldn’t care less. If there’s a problem, I’ll do research. And I’m not spending a lot of time second guessing myself on whether I’m doing a good job, since right now the tasks are so basic. Feed kid. Clean kid. Keep kid from screaming from pain or boredom. Keep kid from electrocuting self. At the end of the day, I can pretty much tell whether I succeeded. Just like in my office job.
But unlike in my office job, I don’t have to be perfect at parenting. I’m not comparing myself to the mythical ideal parent, I’m comparing myself to average, and my parenting solutions are rated against the “what works” benchmark. And I’m a rock star.
Being a wife? Let’s not go there. I’ll work on that in 2009.