One of the wisest things that I’ve ever done (besides marrying Roo) was negotiating a new work schedule when I went back to work after maternity leave. About 8 weeks into my 12-week maternity leave, I realized that I was just starting to settle into parenthood, and wasn’t sure I was ready to go back to work full-time. But I also wasn’t ready to be a full-time stay-at-home mom. I enjoy conversations with adults too much. And I find my job really satisfying. Plus, we wouldn’t have been able to make it work financially on just one of our salaries. So Icalled my then-boss and proposed coming back to work 35 hours, 4 days a week. She was a new mom herself and was remarkably flexible. She okayed my plan. Miraculously, when I was looking for a new job this spring, I found another agency that was willing to let me keep the same schedule (there’s more to the story than that, including the 40+-hour per week job that I almost took except that I kept bursting into tears whenever I thought about taking it, but I’ll save that for another day)
It has been such a fabulous thing to have one day a week to just focus on Tadpole. Sometimes we just go to Target and the grocery store, but I try to do something that’s fun for him at least most Fridays. Some weeks we go to the library story hour. Sometimes it’s a nature storytime at a nearby park. Some days we just hang out at home or go to a playground. It feels like I get a taste of what life as a stay-at-home mom would be like, but still get to keep my job, which is the right balance for me. Our weekends are fun, but usually busy with activities and chores. So it’s great to have this time to focus on Tad and on our relationship. Roo is a teacher, so she generally takes care of him all summer, and I think I would be very jealous of that if I didn’t also have some concentrated time with him.
Today was the kind of day that reminds me why this Fridays with Tad thing is completely and totally worth the sacrifices that it entails.
On about Tuesday of this week, out of the blue, Tad started talking about wanting to go on the “yight wail” (light rail). He talked about it every evening this week. So this morning, we got up, got ourselves out the door and into the car, and drove to the light rail station. We took the train downtown, walked around for a bit and had the snack we had brought with us, and got back on the train to come home. The activities were nothing spectacular, but I loved being able to make his little “yight wail” dream come true. I loved sitting on a bench with Tad in the touristy area downtown and people-watching together–“here come a whole yot of people!” “that man has a purple shirt on–my favorite color is purple!” “that man have a cowucun [construction] worker hat on. Is he a cowucun worker? Where his cowucun worker vest is?” “what that yady eating?” “Is that a man or a yady?”. I loved being able to move more at his pace for once. Having a busy life and a very dawdly toddler, I feel like huge portions of our life involve hurrying him along to one place or another. So it is a gift to be able to slow down, and investigate every crack in the sidewalk, if that’s what he wants to do with the day. It is nice to have at least one day a week when we don’t have to leave the house by any particular time, and we can pause to paint Tad’s fingernails purple before we get dressed.
And then there’s the plus of having time during Tad’s nap (if he condescends to take one) when I can start in on the weekend chores, or write a blog post, like this. Or take a nap, which is what I think I’ll go do now.