Monday, January 24, 2011

"Supermom" returns... with a whole lotta help

Today was my first day back at work after my maternity leave. Ok, so technically it was a leave from teaching, not from all work--I've continued to run the journal I edit, preparing one volume to go to press and working hard on soliciting articles (and referees for each article) for the next one, and transitioning to a new press, etc. etc. I've been working pretty intensely on it... but mostly from home, so it's really a different kind of thing. Today was my first day back working outside the home. And it went remarkably well--thanks largely to Bob, whose role as Mr. Mom started today in earnest. Or perhaps I should say started a new phase, because he's been taking care of Ben quite a bit ever since Ben was born. Anyway...

I teach in the late afternoon. As I was leaving, Baby Ben was curled up asleep next to his daddy, but when I came into the room to get my backpack he woke up, of course. Oops. Note to self: leave backpack by the door! But it was fine--Bob started reading him Blue Hat, Green Hat, which Ben loves, and so I left the house to the sounds of massive giggling. Just about my favorite sound in the universe. It was a perfect send-off, really!

Did I mention that it was the Coldest First Day Ever? In fact, I had to deal with two weather-related crises before going into work (frozen pipes, etc.). Not exactly how I'd envisioned my first day back, but I did get everything resolved in time, so it worked out ok. But anyway, walking from the car to my office, I was really glad for my birthday present from Bob--a very warm winter coat. And last year's Christmas present from him--toasty warm gloves.

My class went really well... I may have overwhelmed them a bit with the descriptions of all the work they're going to be doing, but then I lightened the mood a bit with a chunk of a Monty Python movie (which, believe it or not, *was* relevant to the material!)

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, after reading time, Ben and Bob went down to the exercise area in the basement. Bob worked out and Ben did, too, in his Exersaucer. After the workout, Ben was hungry! Bob fed him two kinds of baby food, part of a banana, some watered down apple juice, and some steak (no, you don't really need teeth to eat steak, it turns out). By the way, Ben goes crazy for steak. Just try eating it in front of him without giving him any. Actually, don't. It's not pretty.

After mealtime, they went up to the man cave, where Ben played with his toys on the floor for a little while, and then sacked out hard on top of Dad.

When I came home he was still asleep, so I whipped up dinner, with George keeping me company, telling me all about his afternoon....

After dinner, I hung out with Ben while Bob cleaned up from dinner, then it was my turn to have Ben sack out on top of me. George put himself to bed, while Bob sat next to me and acquiesced to watching The Bachelor. A wonderfully relaxing end to a really good day.

How did it feel to be back? Honestly, it felt great. It felt great because as much as I love staying at home with my family, I also love my job. And I felt so very good knowing that Bob was at home holding down the fort. There's no way I would have felt that great if I'd had to leave Ben with a sitter or in daycare. Yes, we're making some financial sacrifices to make this work, but we can swing it, and it's beyond worth it to us.

I've been a single working mom for so long... and then even after Bob and I got married, Bob was away for long hours (two hours of commuting every day), and was exhausted much of the time when he was home.... I can hardly express how different, and how amazing, it feels to have the support of a stay-at-home spouse. Of course, a crucial part of that is that Bob loves it, too. It wouldn't work if he weren't happy with the arrangement. But I think he loves it even more than I do. Retired at 45? Why not?! Good thing I love my job as much as I do, or I'd be jealous :-)