Bad Mama…My 8 weeks of leave are up (not a moment too soon) and I’m back in the office. I wish I could say that I cried when I dropped Zachary off at daycare this morning, but that’s why he’s lucky to have a mommy and a mama. Mommy teared up as we drove away from daycare and told me that our boy was growing up. This mama might as well be dad. I told everyone (mostly myself) that I was glad that someone who understands child development would be watching him. The last two months were spent in a haze of exhaustion, guilt and postpartum depression. I was convinced that I couldn’t possibly know how to help him grow. I became obsessed with how I couldn’t stand making him cry and didn’t do enough tummy time, whether or not he was going to the bathroom enough and the naps Z did or didn’t take. By the end I felt like I’d undergone torture – never knowing when I would be able to sleep, when I would have to feed him, if I’d have a moment to read the news on my phone or think about something other than how to keep Z happy and entertained (Z has a very short list of things that interest him and a very short attention span – not a good combo). I knew that working would make me a better mom, but it never occurred me to that maternity leave would feel like torture, that I could describe time spent with my child as an event that left me feeling like I had post traumatic stress disorder (I started to cry every night at 5pm regardless of how good Z had or had not been that day – I was so fearful of what the night would bring). It wasn’t until Saturday when I started to feel better that I realized that I thrive on sleep, order, and my work. Zachary arrived and all three things flew out the window. I need at least one of them to be my perky, engaged, thoughtful self. While I am missing nursing him a bit, mostly I am thrilled to see my students and have a little bit of the day that I can set to a schedule of my own design. It is a relief. I adore my son. He is the light of my life and a bundle of joy. His smiles make me cry and I am so proud of each new thing that he does. I wish I was the mom who could spend every waking moment with him, but I can’t. Bad mama.

Last night I was on Z duty while KK and our friend A had dinner. I hadn’t tried reading to him in a few weeks so I pulled out a board book and began to read Mama, Mommy and Me. Low and behold Z looked at the pictures! Then he followed the page turns. He smiled as I read and I thought, “Oh my gosh, my boy really is growing up.” It was so much fun! Two weeks ago he started tracking interesting objects, turning his head back and forth to keep his vision focused. I was amazed. It is such fun to watch him grow.

Today I know that I can be a great parent. The fear and haze has lifted momentarily and I am ok. I won’t be the mother that my mother was. I can’t stay at home and maintain my mental health. I’m not an attachment parenting person. But I will love him to the ends of the earth and back. Z will grow up around college students. He will go to sporting games that I don’t understand. He will sing songs, write stories, color pictures and dance in my office. I will teach him to swim and his mommy will teach him to play the guitar. We will go to church together on Sundays and the Farmer’s Market on Saturdays. And, when he struggles with his own mental health (sorry, buddy, those are the genes you’ve got) I will walk along side him. Hopefully that will be enough.

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