Someone get my girl a cap and gown – she (and I) have made it through her second full month at daycare!  Though I miss being at home with Jules seven days a week, we have settled into our new normal, with its share of ups and downs.

The downs:

Holy germs, batman!  In her first month at daycare, Juliette came down with three colds, one stomach bug, and one nasty ear infection.  You know those commercials where cold and flu germs are played by the green blobby guys with scary bulbous eyes?  Those guys flash before my eyes every time I set Juliette down on her classroom floor in the morning.  It’s not that her classroom is unclean, per se, it’s just that she and her eight little buddies are all in that phase where they explore the world with their mouths, leaving a trail of saliva in their wake as they make their way from one pile of toys to the next.  One kid catches a cold, all kids catch a cold.  I’m clinging to the hope that exposing her to these bugs now will build up her immunity in the long term, so this snot isn’t all for naught.

Giving Juliette my undivided attention is harder than it used to be.  I work Monday-Tuesday-Wednesday and try to leave the office as close to 5:00 as possible on those days so that I can spend a couple of hours with Jules before bedtime.  These limited hours in the office limit the amount of stuff I can accomplish, which means I bring work home with me, firing up the laptop after Jules goes to bed or during her naps on my days “off”.  Boundary-setting is an ongoing battle – even on the weeks I manage to stick to the 30 hours of work I’ve committed to, I still feel like I’ve spent an additional 10-12 hours thinking about work as that nagging to-do list whirls through my head.  “Just put it away” has become my 5:00 mantra.

And dang it, I’m tired these days.  It feels like we’re go-go-going from 6 am on Monday till 8 pm on Wednesday – most Wednesday nights I crash out on the couch around 8:30, totally spent by the baby-work-baby-work cycle.

But it’s not all sickness and stress and fatigue – I promise, there are upsides!

Like, Juliette is rocking the commute.  We were a little nervous about how she’d handle being shuttled back and forth on Lightrail every day, but she’s a champ on the train.  Most days she just hangs out in her stroller and is content to watch people get on and off.  Some days I can’t resist the urge to hold her, so she sits on my lap and we read a book or have a good chat on the way in.  So proud of our urban baby!

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The smile on her face when I go visit her at lunch or pick her up at the end of the day is enough to nearly make my heart explode.  I often head over to daycare around noon to hang out for a bit or take her out for a walk along the waterfront – I peek into her classroom and usually find her contentedly hanging out in the bouncer or passing a slobbery toy back and forth with one of her friends.  Then she looks up and sees me and starts excitedly flapping her arms until I scoop her up, at which point she buries her face in my chest, pulls her head back to flash me her best two-toothed grin, and nuzzles me once more.  In those moments, I feel so exceedingly special – I know she enjoys her teachers and the other kids and that bucket full of plastic cars, but I’m mama.  Those extra-bright smiles and extra-close cuddles are mine and mine alone.

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Thursdays!  Ohhhh, I love Thursdays, when I get to cuddle with Jules for as long as she’ll let me in the morning, then take her to the bakery for yogurt (hers) and a latte (mine).  Time with her feels like such a treat after three days apart.  We go for long walks and hang out at the park and I try my damnedest not to think about my to-do list and live fully into my most important job.  My favorite job, loving this girl.

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I still occasionally wonder if we’re doing the right thing, if our family would be better off if I had decided to stay home with Juliette.  It’s really, really hard, being the architect and the mom and the wife I want to be.  But I like the way all those hats look on me, even stacked a little precariously one on top of the other.  So we’ll just keep swimming.  And savoring those moments when we come up for air and pat ourselves on the back for making it work.