I went into my office last week to start discussing the terms of my return to work in March.  Our preferred daycare has confirmed that they have an opening for Juliette, and our deposit is due on Friday.  Gaaaaahhhhh!  Where did my maternity leave go?  Is it really ending so soon? The past few months have flown by.  But in that funny trick that time often plays, it also feels like a lifetime ago that my days revolved around work rather than baby.

The question over when (or if) to return to my job has been a tough one.  When we decided last year that a March start date seemed right, Juliette was still just a fuzzy little blob on an ultrasound screen.  Now she’s here and she’s beautiful and fun and knocking-my-socks-off sweet. And she’s still so small, so reliant on me.  I know, many women don’t get anywhere close to six months of leave and I’m so, so thankful that our savings and Shane’s job have given me the opportunity to take this extended time off.  Yet…I want more.  More time with my baby girl.  More morning snuggles and afternoon walks.  More play dates with my mom friends and their little ones.  More goofy, toothless smiles.  Oh, that girl has some wickedly powerful smiles – those smiles had me wondering if it was time to put an indefinite hold on my career.

But damn, it’s complicated, because I’m fickle and non-committal and maybe a little greedy.  Because while I’m loving this time at home, I also want to keep my professional momentum going.  I want to utilize my skills as a designer and experience the sense of accomplishment that comes with a problem solved or a deadline met.  And I know this is pride talking, but I still want to call myself an architect and I still want to bring home a paycheck.

More than anything, I want to do what’s best for Juliette.  Initially I thought nothing could be better for her than unlimited access to mama; I love her like no one else can, I’m her sole source of nourishment, I know which books are her favorites and which songs she likes best before naptime.  But is there more out there for her?  What if she ends up loving the chance to spend some of her days with other babies at daycare, with other grown-ups who will surely come to adore her?  What if a little space from her dad and me allows her to be more confident, more secure, more adaptable?  And long-term, how can I best encourage and motivate her to pursue her dreams?  I received a magazine in the mail last week from a contractor I’ve worked with for several years, and as I flipped through it with Juliette on my lap, we came to a spread on a project I worked on recently.  I pointed to the glossy photos of the shiny new building and exclaimed, “Look, baby!  Look what Mommy made!”, as if I was expecting her to pat me on the back for a job well done.  Clearly, it will be awhile before she’s able to appreciate the merits of sustainable architecture, but someday I hope she’ll be inspired by the fact that her mom has worked very hard to create beautiful buildings in this city that we love.

Am I over-rationalizing, trying too hard to convince myself that my return to work is what’s best for our family?  Probably.  I’m an excellent rationalizer.  But I’m also a pretty good architect, so I’m going to be spending three days a week in the office while Juliette thrives (fingers crossed) in her new daycare environment.  We’ll ride the train in together in the mornings and I’ll go visit her at lunchtime, as she’ll be just a couple of blocks away from me.  And then I’ll go pick her up at the end of the day, and she’ll smile at me as I scoop her into my arms and my heart will just about break with how good it will feel to hold her.  Because I’ll still be mama to this little goofball above all else.

20140127 juliette sm

One Comment

  1. Nancy says:

    Yeah, you will! And you’ll both do great!