Monday, November 17, 2008

Maternity Leave is over

So technically I am a stay at home mom these days, starting last June. Aside from a little (unpaid) freelancing at my lab, working on a paper that will be a year in the works before it is finished I have been hanging out with my girls, my first time ever as a SAHM. For the first time I have a newborn baby and I am not counting the days with dread. Ella got 6 weeks of mommy before I went back to work and she got to hang out with daddy for the mornings and spend afternoons in daycare. Käthe got 10 weeks, as I spent the first two weeks of my maternity leave still pregnant. And as an even better deal, Kate got to spend her mornings with daddy and afternoons with me, as we were engaged in the 3 crazy years of splitting the workday (someone was at work or staying home with kids from 6 AM - 6 PM, there was a tradeoff at 12:30 each was fantastic and hellish all at the same time).
Thea, however, has no cutoff. There is no looming expiration date of this time with my baby, no transition from totally hers to the split loyalties and sinking futility of trying to be both mother and scientist. It is refreshing, and as much as I miss the rewards of my job I do not miss the sheer mental and physical exhaustion of trying to be both devoted mother and dedicated researcher. It hasn't quite sunk in that this time, as I watch her little lips sucking in her sleep, I am not waiting for the other shoe to drop. Ehemann went back to work today, after 2 weeks of paternity leave. It was a bit tough, being on my own all day for the first time with Kate and Thea; it was a million times easier than leaving my newborn in exchange for long hours of work interrupted by the cold suck-whoosh of the breast pump. How wonderful to instead cuddle the softest baby head imaginable to my breast and read stories to the beautiful toddler snuggled next to me.

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