Monday, April 2, 2012

Work: The Agony of Going Back to Work After Baby....

As a working mom, this column struck a chord with me...hope it touches other working moms as well!

From The Abilene Reporter News, April 1, 2012.

Sarah Kleiner Varble: Going back to work tough after having baby

Staff Reports

Sunday, April 1, 2012

This is it: the day I've been dreading for the past 12 weeks.

This is the day I place my baby girl, Alexandra, into the arms of complete strangers and trust that they'll take care of her while I go off to work. Trust that they'll feed her when she's hungry and comfort her when she cries.

That they'll wipe her runny nose and drool-soaked chin.

That they'll change her diaper when it needs to be changed and not a moment later.

These are the basics to sustaining new human life. But there's much more to nurturing, and that's what has me hung up.

Will these caregivers have time to coo back-and-forth with my chatty baby? Will they smile at my second-born and sing to her?

When she's done eating, will they let her rest her head on their shoulder for a few minutes and listen to her respire with contented puffs of air?

Will they look into her big blue eyes and tell her without reservation that if she works hard, she could one day design buildings as landscape-changing as Zaha Hadid's, shoot photos as iconic as Annie Leibovitz's or write news articles about presidents as impactful as Anne Kornblut's?

Will they tell her that she can do anything she wants because of the women who worked hard before her? That she should never take this gift for granted?

These are the things I would do if I kept her at home with me, but now, 12 weeks after bringing her into this world, I must go back to work.

Never in a million years did I think I'd even consider staying home to raise children. I'm not cut from that fabric.

I've always derived more pleasure from say, playing poker and drinking craft beer with the guys than watching yet another movie about [insert dreamy actor here] trying to win back the broken heart of a toothpick-sized actress.

I never had the desire to babysit when I was young. I never changed a diaper before July 2009 when our first child, Benjamin, was born. Before then, the sound of screaming children was abhorrent.

But the game changed when I became responsible for creating life and then, more importantly, providing the best life possible for our little ones.

I think all moms, whether they're inclined to go back to work or to stay home, agonize over the question: Is this what's best for my baby?

I'm sure that within a few weeks, the adrenaline from covering a close election will seep back into my typing fingers, and hopefully it won't be quite as painful when I walk away from the day care in the mornings empty-handed.

I know this because I've crossed this bridge before. My husband, Nathan, and I had to make the tough decision in 2009 after Benjamin was born whether we would hand his daily care over to someone else so I could go back to work.

When I dropped him off at day care for the first time, I held him in a rocking chair in the nursery for an hour, asking questions of the caretakers through a fountain of tears.

Finally the sweet older lady said in a soft West Texas drawl, "Honey, you might want to think about setting him down in one of those swings now."

So I did. And then I ran to the car and wept for another 15 minutes before I was able to drive away.

Day care has been good for Benjamin because he's learning so much in the classroom — not just his letters and numbers, but how to socialize and share. Every night, I ask him if he had a good time at school, and he eagerly tells me all about his friends.

Knowing this, you'd think it would be easier the second time around, but I'm not finding it to be so.

After watching Benjamin mature for the past two years, I know what delightful developments are in store for Alexandra, and I want to witness her mind and body growing.

The other night, I baked a chicken and it was nearly done cooking when Nathan brought Benjamin home. When they walked in the door, he sniffed the air and exclaimed, "Mmm! Smells yummy, Mommy!"

That made me want to stay home and cook dinner for him every night for the next 16 years. And I don't even like cooking.

Sarah Kleiner Varble has covered state and local government for the Reporter-News for nearly seven years.

  © 2012 Scripps Newspaper Group — Online

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