Letting go of ridiculous expectations is one of those things I know will make life more peaceful. Yet unrealistic expectations (aka perfectionism) are grooved into my psyche and it takes constant conscious effort to retrack my thoughts. The thoughts inevitably lead to guilt when I don’t meet expectations and all the attendant emotions reduce my joy and love of the moments in my life. Enough reason to stop? I think so.
Going back to work with a 9.5 month old baby brings these tendencies to the fore. I am not a perfect mom but I do pretty good with her. She’s happy, healthy, and seems to enjoy most things and people. If I were doing something dramatically wrong I suspect it would show up more in her character (not that I take credit for her sunny disposition!). But leaving her to go back to work makes me question all my motives and abilities. Am I leave my daughter purely for money? How awful! Am I refusing to make a reasonable sacrifice to ensure her emotional well-being? How selfish! And of course I am convinced that this will be a hard transition for her and our relationship will change for the worse.
The reality: if I have to work, this is a pretty good situation to be in. She spends days with her beloved nana. She has a dog to play with/terrorize. She spends time with her cousin and auntie as my sister & her family are staying with my parents right now. The two days I’ve worked so far she’s been nothing but smiles and enthusiastic play when I’ve returned, and though she is glad to see me she is happy to return to playing.
There will be some effects I won’t be thrilled about. I can already see nursing challenges as she is more stimulated at my mom’s and resists slowing down to nurse when I get there. I’m sure there will be days when she wants me, not someone else, and I’ll hate that. And days when she doesn’t care that I’m going, and which will probably distress me more. Today when she wouldn’t nurse and didn’t want to play with me I felt ready to quit. Work is okay, but just two days back is enough to show me that family is far far more important, not to mention fun and rewarding.
Overall, though, when I step back, cut myself some slack and try and see things as they are, I know that this will be workable. She will be nurtured by a loving older family member; I will continue to grow professionally and help support our family financially; And we will still have a lot of time together. She is resilient. If given love and nurturing and stability, she will grow and thrive. And if I change my mind, or she needs me more, we can always change things up.