“What have you been up to?”. I dread that question. It always feels like a lot and I in turn should have a long and involved response, but I don’t have a list of recognizable accomplishments.
I left my job shortly after Edie was born. It wasn’t a decision I made easily or lightly. It was in fact made with the help of my partner, and without his support I wouldn’t have been able to do it. Aside from a period almost a decade ago when I was laid off I’ve been working since i was in high school. Not being employed is foreign. Being a mother even more so.
I can’t measure progress or achievements like I used to. There is no checklist, despite my attempts to create some semblance of scheduling or “things to do”. No calendar or meetings. There is no bargaining of time. There are no performance reviews. I don’t get paid or get raises. Figuring out who I am with her -- my worth, productiveness -- has been at times an exhaustive internal exercise, and other times completely effortless. I have cycled from feeling guilty that it has seemed too easy (“am I really doing anything?”) to bitter that it is hard and no-one sees what I’m doing (“really, I put out some emotional fires today AND did 500 other things.”). Somewhere in between is the truth and its largely dependent on the amount of caffeine coursing through my veins coloring my perception.
Oddly what I think has been hardest is dealing with imagined judgement. Will other people, including my closest friends and loved ones, question how I fill my day? If I don’t know where the day went then surely they will wonder too. The jig will be up and the high I got from unloading the dishwasher or brushing my teeth will quickly dissolve.
Edie just hit the 6 month mark. I feel like we have finally gotten into a good groove, and it’s a routine I’d never trade for anything. She is a GOOD baby. She sleeps soundly, smiles, laughs, talks, plays, and has the most expressive face. I love watching her change and the times I’m challenged to come up with on-the-fly creative solutions to help soothe or entertain her. On the days that are a little harder I recall my life before her and whatever frustrations I have fade away.
At the end of the day, did I do a good job? Maybe? I hope so. I think so. What I do know is that I have a new boss and I think she likes me.