Guest post by Molly Jarrell
It's 1:30 in the afternoon and I'm sitting here at my desk, at work. I've got pictures of my little girl all around me, and my Mother's Day card (with its abrasive, low-budget recording of her little laugh, which I love) all within arm's reach.
My heart aches for her.
This morning we decided to let Daddy sleep in a little longer so I took Eden into the shower with me. Pretty soon Daddy (who figured I was running late and needing to get ready for work) came in and asked Eden, "Want to come with Daddy and get dressed?" She immediately buried her head into my shoulder and her little arms grabbed me tight around my neck.
She stayed like that for the next — oh, I don't know — 20 minutes or so. Nate kept coming in to see if she had fallen asleep. I couldn't bring myself to break the spell. It was just Eden and me, together, standing under the stream of hot water, feeling each other breathe and reconnecting. She didn't even stir.
And I thought, "She misses me. It's Friday. I've already worked 5 days this week and we're going on number 6."
So I stood there with her in my arms and a towel draped around her back, wasting water and not caring a bit.
It hasn't been easy, working full time. Granted, I've got a pretty easy gig as far as working moms go. I have my own office. She spends her days with her dad, mostly, or with other family members. I have a super-flexible boss who lets me set my own schedule as long as the work gets done. And I can take my laptop home and work at night if I need to.
But it still wrenches my heart to leave her.
People often ask how it's going. How is it, being a working mom? People seem to have a lot of opinions about it. They either think I'm going to be a basket case of motherly longing, or am giddy with excitement to escape the restrictive confines of motherhood for the wonderful world of personal achievement and intellectualism.
Eden was 3 1/2 months old when I went back to work nearly a year ago. Everyone told me I needed to get her to sleep in her crib before I went back so I could get a "decent night's sleep." I think she had been sleeping in bed with us ever since we brought her home from the hospital. I never intentionally decided to co-sleep (never even really thought about it) but I don't remember ever putting her in her crib. Bringing her in to bed with us just seemed like the right thing to do.
I do remember feeling really, really conflicted about it because it seemed like everyone was telling us it was something we were supposed to "grow out of." Instead, I felt like it was something we "grew into." It just felt right. Even my husband felt the same way.
Thankfully, and for whatever reason, I just couldn't bring myself to move my daughter to her crib when I went back to work like everyone told me I should. I am, oh, so very glad I followed my heart, because if we hadn't kept up the co-sleeping I am pretty darn sure we wouldn't still be breastfeeding.
I don't think I could have gone through the transition back to work full time without breastfeeding (and stayed sane). Nursing is the single best way for me to connect with Eden when I get home after being gone such long hours. It's the single best way for Eden to feel that all is right with the world, no matter how chaotic her day has been. It's our landing place, our reset to zero, our anchor in any storm.
I can't say that breastfeeding and working full time hasn't been hard. It has. Hey, breastfeeding itself isn't always easy. But it's been my lifeline, my connection to home. It has helped me meet my baby's needs even when I wasn't there in person. And being able to co-sleep through it all has been the greatest gift of all. Many days I wake up and wish that I worked from home, or could take Eden with me to work, or that somehow life was different so that I could spend my whole days with my family. So I didn't have to leave her behind.
For now, I'll just take comfort in the fact that when I get home from work we have nursing to bring us back together again.
And I'll just tuck my worry about weaning away for another day.
Molly is a relatively new mother of one from Southern Californira who is trying to take motherhood, a full-time job, and all the rest of the whirlwind of life one day at a time. She likes wine, reading, and scrapbooking; she's also a terrible gardener and can't remember birthdays to save her life. Five days a week, she heads off to her job in corporate communications while Mr. Molly, a professional musician, stays home with The Peanut. Motherhood has been making Molly more eco-concious, more patient, more tired and more aware. You can visit Molly's neck of the woods at http://mollyjarrell.blogspot.com.
Michelle Curnow of Evergreen Photography