I haven’t blogged much in recent weeks because I’ve been preparing to go back to work. Last week was my first full week back at the office, and already I feel swamped, overwhelmed, snowed under by the work. My colleagues did their best to watch over my projects all summer, keeping things going and responding to author queries, but I’m now responsible for getting things to the next level. I’ve also had to travel for a business meeting already: just from Philly to DC, and only for a quick day trip and lunch meeting rather than an overnight, but still. All this while I’m still trying to adjust to pumping breast milk and lugging my Medela InStyle everywhere (including to DC); working out transportation/commuting issues now that my husband F, temporarily home with YogaBaby, can’t just run me to the train station; crying every night when I see my sweet little one look up at me and realize I just missed a whole day of her brand-new life. Discovering, in short, what it means to be a working mother.
The main thing on my mind lately is time. Time has separated itself into two distinct categories: time with my daughter, and time doing anything else. The “anything else” is often necessary (like working is necessary for keeping the little one in diapers), but I’m finding that I want to keep anything not involving the baby to a minimum. When we’re talking about shortening my commute time (by getting me a bike so I don’t have to walk to the train station – which by the way is really fun) or taking a 30-minute lunch so I can get home earlier, that’s one thing, but how do I prioritize yoga and meditation? They’re things I need for myself, to be a healthy person and therefore a good mom, but how do I take that time away from my child when I already by necessity have to be away from her so much? And how do I justify healthy social things – meeting a girlfriend for a drink, or going to a lecture at the library or museum – when first of all I feel like I barely see my kid, and secondly I’m not making enough time for yoga and meditation? It all has to fit in somewhere, right? How? (That’s not a rhetorical question. If you have the answer, please tell me!)
I think, in the near future, that I’m going to try to revisit what the yogic scriptures say about time and reflect on what that may mean in my situation. I’ll post here when I can, and only when it won’t drastically interfere with my baby time. (For example, I wrote this post by hand in the “mothers’ room” at the office while I was pumping, and I’m now typing it up six days later with a sleeping sweetie in a milk coma on my lap.) In the meantime, I’ll try to take a lesson from my YogaBaby and keep my focus on the present moment.
I think you answer your own question. You need time for yoga and meditation “to be a healthy person and therefore a good mom” and you need “healthy social things.” Although your daughter needs your physical presence, she also needs you to be your own best, healthiest self (and your partner needs that too). It’s good to ask these questions (many people never do), and obviously the way you manage your time will be different now forever. I’d suggest not thinking of time away from your daughter as a deprivation (I’m thinking a lot right now about the notion of deprivation and will be writing about it soon). You know already that it’s not possible to spend every minute with her, so instead think about how the time you spend on other things benefits you. Everything that helps you to feel whole as a person benefits your daughter. You already know this.
I know. And the thing is, it should actually be easier to spend time away from her right now, because she herself isn’t demanding my presence – I’m sure later on when she’s older there will be times when she’ll want me to be around or ask for me specifically, but right now she’s just fine without me. As far as she’s concerned, I’m great, but F is also great and grandparents are great; she loves our neighbor Stacey, and I’m sure day care will be fine too. The issue is more that it feels wrong to me to be away from her. How do I force myself to get up early for yoga when sleep is at a premium these days, or to do yoga or go to a class when she’s right there being awesome and I can spend time with her instead? Sometimes I’ve done yoga when she’s playing on her playmat beside me, but I haven’t gotten to a class yet. It’s just too hard to walk out the door. And when I am away from her, for yoga class or drinks with a friend, how do I stop myself from feeling guilty while I’m out or (more likely) after I’m home again looking at her and hearing about the new thing she did today that I missed? I’m honestly dreading teaching again for this reason, although I know I have to do it – I worked too hard to become a yoga teacher to let it lapse.
Also, there’s the guilt thing. I don’t feel guilt on her part, since I know she’s perfectly happy with F when I’m out. I feel guilt for F, because I have multiple outlets for social interaction and he has far fewer, and if I’m out then he’s at home with the baby. What’s an appropriate amount of social time away from the baby? Two fun R-only excursions per month? Once a week feels like too much. But then, once I get back to yoga class, it’ll be once a week minimum on teaching plus I’d like once a week for me to attend a class. And if I’m out, say, twice a week on yoga, and a couple times a month being social, then F is home at all those times. We’re thinking about joining the Y for the childcare help so that at least we could both get some fitness in, and I’d be happy with Y yoga instead of studio yoga, but still. We’ve been hanging more with church friends lately and F is hitting it off with some of those folks and making plans, but I am still far more the social butterfly. I just don’t want to feel like or be perceived as the kind of person who has a kid and then dumps her kid on her spouse all the time.
This comment is getting long and whiny. I feel like I’m making excuses, and maybe I do just want a little space to whine right now, rather than answers, which are hard to implement. It’s just hard already and F’s not even back at work yet.