“Back After Baby”

One week left. How is it possible that twelve weeks have passed so quickly, but simultaneously my life feels as if it did not exist before? He is sleeping now, as I gather my thoughts. I’m a ball of nerves. After weeks of searching for nanny to share with my next-door neighbor with a newborn, the perfect one we hired just quit before she even started. In a scramble, I tour the day care down the street. While it seems clean, and bright and everyone seems nice, it feels like a compromise. I don’t want to compromise for my child, my baby. I have no other choice.

The night before. I lay awake. I cry. I worry. All he knows is that mommy is always there for him. He is not going to understand.

The morning of. Up a little early to get in some extra snuggles and then, like a start pistol, the day begins. Pure scramble. Shower, pump, dress, make up, coffee, bottles with labels, diaper, onesie, dogs out, car seat, kiss daddy bye, drive, and all of a sudden… we are here. We are at the day care. The moment is in front of me. I hand over my child to a woman I really do not know. I tear myself away, but as I go, I look through the interior window. He sees me. His brow raises seeing me walk away. He looks worried. Waterworks behind dark glasses, all the way in on the train.

I’m back! Everyone is so nice. How’s the baby?! Let me see pictures! Someone cleaned my office while I was gone. This actually feels good. Familiar. I jump right in. Files were waiting for me on my desk. I’m in a groove, and then I realize… I have to pump! Another new addition to my office is the lock on the door, thank goodness. Ok, back to work. And then…

It’s quitting time. The joy of coming home and holding my baby boy. Indescribable.

Day after day, it becomes a routine. Over time the morning is not so rushed and the evenings become family time. The notion of living for the weekend has taken on a whole new meaning. But now, come Monday, when I hand him off to Ms. Sandra in the morning, he smiles at her in recognition and I know he is in good hands. I can concentrate on the tasks of the day. Is it easy all of the time? No. Do I still feel pulled in two directions at times? Yes. Yet, with each passing day my prior legitimate contemplation of quitting my job and being a stay-at-home mom transforms into the realization that I prefer to work. I am not only a Mom; I am also an attorney, and I have work to do and people to help. These two roles are both included in that which makes up my personal identity. It matters to me to strive to be both a great mom and a great lawyer. I have a feeling that my work on both of those goals will improve the likelihood of both actually happening. When it gets tough, I just have to take a moment, breathe and remember… I can do this. I can do it all.

This piece was first published in the October 2015 issue of The Catalyst, the newsletter of the Illinois State Bar Association Standing Committee on Women and the Law.