Baby came and I took a break...from everything. Work, socializing, running, sleeping (not by my choice *looking disdainfully at little Nicholas who grins in return*), cooking, blogging, and eventually the last two months, I broke from Facebook, working remotely from home, house chores and doing everything except preparing for the holidays and being a mom. Basically in the month of December, I bought and wrapped gifts, made cookies, nursed my baby, played Star Wars with my big boy and laid around in my pajamas. New Years Eve was supposed to be spent with friends in lipstick and high heels. Instead due to an unfortunate shift in plans, I was doing yoga at 9pm in my bedroom and gazing with bewilderment at my sleeping kiddos. And while I missed my friends, I loved having a quiet night at home.
It is rare, so very very rare, that I ever break from anything. That I ever say "no" to anything. As a person who thrives on a busy schedule and parties and friends and running and career, I don't know any other speed than full throttle. But somehow for a short period of time, I utterly and totally unplugged. And it was glorious.
While on maternity leave, I sensed something, a growing feeling inside me. Time is precious, the years fly by. Cherish the special uniqueness of being home. Rather than fight it and obsess about my to do's that were not getting done, I flowed. I cherished. I savored. I looked deep into both of my son's eyes every hour and said "I love you."
Ask any parent and they will tell you that the short time your children spend in your nest is fleeting and you blink and they are gone. My big brother had five kids within 7 years. And those kids are now almost through high school. Some have moved out and most have moved on. And while I know there were times my brother struggled with being a parent to five small kids, he has repeatedly said he honestly cannot believe how close he is to seeing them move out. He is wistful and sad and shocked by how fast it has gone and is going.
The first time around, with Eliot, I was obsessed with (1) getting him to sleep through the night; (2) keeping him and myself on a strict schedule; (3) returning to running; (4) maintaining contact with the office and clients and work; (5) acting as president of two legal organizations and maintaining my work in both of them. And it probably served me well to worry and obsess. I had a baby that slept through the night at 8 weeks. I maintained a clean home. I ran a half marathon when he was 3 months old. I had Eliot in January and became a partner in my firm that December. Those sacrifices paid off and proved to me when I set my mind to something...I can do it. I can do anything.
This time I did not have anything to prove. Instead, I allowed myself complete leniency. I did not run until Nicholas was 10 weeks old (last Sunday). Like not a step. I have not pressured Nicholas to stretch his feeding schedule or let him cry it out. So while he's 10 weeks old, he sleeps for, at best, 4-5 hours at a time. I lost touch with clients and work a bit and will need to scramble to get it back in order. I let my house get pretty messy, on more than one occasion...much to my Type A husband's chagrin. And I lived in yoga pants. And yet, I find none of these decisions to be bad. I do not mind one little bit that I can't run 5 miles. I know I will again. And I know that if I wanted to, I could have made myself do it. While at times, I struggle with my sleep deprivation, I honestly don't really mind getting up at 2am and nuzzling with my little fuzzy headed angel. I know that work will always be there. And my house has cleaned up pretty well despite all my, uhm, "projects."
My friends, at least the ones that count, have hardly protested my absence. They tell me they miss me. They drop by for coffee. They host me at their house for fun and bonding time. But they are not insisting I socialize on their terms. They are thrilled to see me when I stick my head out of my cocoon but aren't pressuring me to change out of yoga pants and into skinny jeans.
I ceremoniously swore off facebook. In the wake of the horrific Sandy Hook shooting I was very disturbed and angered by multiple facebook posts turning the tragedy into a platform. I am glad I gave it up. Why on earth should I spend time cursing someone else's opinions when I had Christmas cookies to bake and kids to love? I honored the Sandy Hook victims by praying for them. Reading their stories from actual news sources. I read about the Adam Lanza, the killer, and prayed for his family too. I read and listened to oped's from intelligent commentators to help me decide what to think about mental health care and gun laws and the other issues. And, several times, I read the full list of the names of the victims to myself, out loud and cried a little. Like everyone else I asked "why" and questioned God for answers.
Then, yesterday, I returned to work. I was hit with a landslide of work "stuff." I have read lots of emails about friend stuff. I worked some on my running "to do" list of projects. I am blogging. I checked facebook. I went to yoga and tonight I'm going for a run. And so I'm back. I am being forced out of my cocoon. And it's so hard. So very very hard. When I look in my baby's chocolatey eyes and we flirt and coo at each other, that's all the matters in the world. But cooing doesn't pay the bills. And he won't be tiny forever. He needs social skills. I need grown up contact.
I wrapped myself fully, for weeks, in my nest. I insulated myself fully from everything out there. I was just truly present in my home and my kids got me, 100% of me, for weeks. I don't know that I will ever be able to do that again. If I think about that, I will undoubtedly suffer heartbreak. But I also know that I am not good as a stay at home mom. That the passion I have for homemaking and baby bonding would not be sustained. As the house continued and remained messy, it would cause stress for everyone. I frankly just lack the skill set to be a successful homemaker. I did not accomplish much of anything other than being mom and if I actually "stayed home" I sadly doubt that would change.
So I instead concentrate on 5:00 p.m. And the magical hour of picking up my kids and finding out about their days. I am throwing myself head first into life again and it hurts. Unplugging is not ultimately sustainable for me and perhaps that is why it is so sweet. And so precious and so desireable. As I dip my toe into the blogging water, it turns out the temperature is just right. And it feels good. And as much as I miss my boys and long to see them and hold them, it feels good to write. And slowly the rest will start to feel good again as well.
Ultimately, as I reflect on it, what a wonderful time I had on maternity leave. I am so blessed that I was able to take 10 weeks to truly connect and bond with Nicholas. I am so thankful that in the 5 weeks Eliot spent at home with me, we deepened our love by playing hard and laughing and caring for our new baby together. I am so excited for 2013. I feel like a lot of momentum was building in 2012 for good things in my life. And I think that momentum will blossom this year. Here's to a new start and getting back to everything. In the meantime, I will blink away my tears and watch videos of my babies on my iphone at my desk. What a wonderful gift I gave myself by pulling the plug.