and everything changed.
I left home this morning at 6:30AM and will sadly not return until 9:30PM. This extra long day of work loomed before me and has created an intense amount of stress for me: How would Henry do without me for all of this time? Will he have enough to eat at home? Will he have an effective sleep routine? Will my parents, who are home today, be all right? Will they have enough to eat? Will they need a break from caring for the baby? Will they be able to take care of the dogs? Will the dogs be all right? Will the dogs go bananas without us for all those hours?
These are just a tiny fraction of the questions, hesitations, and concerns I have about today’s incredibly long day away from home. Every year we prepare and stay at school for Back to School Night. Every other year, this has been one of my favorite evenings. I stay after school and have dinner with friends and then get to meet the parents of my students in a casual setting as they mill about the building. Tonight though is different. Now with Henry home I am a bundle of nerves and feeling very fragile about this long stay away. When I take a moment to really think about him home without me all day I feel like crying and when I come home the little man will be asleep. It hurts my heart to know I will have missed his whole day. But, alas it is the nature of the beast that is today.
Since I couldn’t physically be there with the little man and my parents today, I decided I could at least cook them a nutritious, belly-warming meal. Through dinner, I would be able to “be there for them.” And, in this case what is more comforting than a warm plate of pot pie? I hope that in lieu of my presence this meal will keep them “sustained” and will give me a small bit of peace of mind heading into my long night on campus. And really, it is just one night, right?
Tomorrow I go back to school officially. Thankfully it is not a full day of school jammed with classes and new students and new lessons. That will wait until Tuesday. Rather tomorrow is a day to set up my classroom briefly, meet with a few parents of my advisory, and leave Henry at home for the first time for more than just a Pure Barre Class. Family and friends have asked how am I feeling about this and to be honest I am incredibly conflicted.
Half of me is excited and ready to return. I love being a teacher. Each day the students challenge me to think, grow, and learn and in return I get to work closely with them as they question the world around them and discover history. My co-workers are inspiring men and women who are passionate about their careers, the students, and about having a good time too. It truly is a wonderful place to work and a wonderful place to return to each Fall. Having had my mother here this week, I have been able to prepare lessons, set up class websites, check e-mails, start class blogs, review faculty documents, review class lists, and generally feel “ready” for the first day of school. This has helped keep the typical back to school anxiety dreams away! Professionally, I feel fulfilled in my job which makes going back to it exciting. I have also spent time tracking Henry’s sleep/wake time and feel good about the schedule I am leaving behind for Mema. This was a major step is feeling ready to return. Whenever you look up baby schedules (even one that is baby led and flexible) it follows the typical work day of 9AM-5PM which is not the schedule of the working teacher. This new baby schedule for the teaching parent that we have created at least lets me feel as though when I leave Henry’s grandma will have a sense of when to expect certain cues from Henry in order to have as smooth a day as possible (and, I know this is ideal).
At the same time, this year is so different. The other half of me is drawn inward to my home and family. Henry has turned out to be such a wonderful and amazing addition to our lives. I am afraid that if someone asks me “How are you doing?” on that first day, I will be too fragile to answer without bursting into tears. I know I want to return to work, but I also wish I could just stay home (at the same time!) and raise and love my son full-time. Two feelings I am most conflicted with about leaving Henry are: I don’t want to miss ANYTHING and I want Henry to be more than just okay when I am away. It is not healthy to be the only one to provide Henry with all of his needs, I know. It is important for him to meet others and be cared for by others. But the idea of missing BIG chunks of his day hurts my heart so much. He grows and changes so much even in a day and I just feel like I am going to be missing out. Oddly, I also feel like I am going to be replaced. For the last 8 weeks, I have been there for everything even if I was just watching David parent, I was still physically there. Now I won’t be there AND someone else will be. What if I no longer can read my son or what if he prefers the care, cuddles, and love of my mom over me? I am so lucky that my mom, Henry’s mema, will be with him but I still have this silly worry. As I write this, I can see the selfishness of these feelings but I cannot swipe them away. I selfishly want to be home with my baby boy and simultaneously want to be at school teaching and working. Part of me wonders if I had had more time and support in this dynamic if I would feel better prepared to return but our timing wasn’t perfect. And, part of me wonders if anyone would notice if I just tucked him in my backpack and brought him with me!
Tomorrow morning I will probably cry all the way to school but then will be so happy to see my co-workers who have for years shared some much of themselves with me. I feel more emotional now than I did any day of my pregnancy! I just hope that when I come home tomorrow, Henry will have had a good day home with Mema and David and the decision to return to work will feel more and more right as the hours turn into days, weeks, and months back at school.
So much has changed this month! Henry is no longer the sleepy little baby who observes his world silently. Instead, he has become more and more vocal and loves to smile and squeal in delight. His smiles are killer. He is such a little charmer and he spends so much of his morning just smiling his toothless grin at you. It pulls at your heart and it takes every ounce of me not to just eat him up. He still naps like a champion but it takes him a little longer to get to sleep these days. While it was a little hard figuring out that he wanted a few more snuggles before nap time, it was worth every moment. He will only be this tiny for a short period of his life and the least I can do is soak up every snuggle he gives me! You can tell that he really is beginning to notice people, pets, and toys and continues to develop his list of preferences. We have loved all of our adventures this month too. Every day heading out with Henry becomes more and more second nature. This month we have visited downtown 3 times and have had many family members come to stay with us. Throughout all of these moments, Henry has been an excellent little companion and host. We definitely still have some challenges (like Henry is not a fan of drinking from a bottle), but overall being a parent, caring for Henry, and watching him observe and interact with the world around him is the best…simply the best. It makes going back to work next week hard on my heart because I never thought I could love a little baby like I love this little guy. I am going to miss him so much during my day and I am going to miss the time we had together as a little family of three all summer long. This was hands down the best summer. I guess David and I will just have to savor every minute we have home with our little charmer this Fall.
This month Henry is:
- Smiling a TON
- Starting to show signs of laughter on the horizon
- Babbling and saying “agoo”
- Noticing his toys and trying to “play” with them (reaching out towards them)
- Enjoying being read to and looking at the pages
- Visiting with family and friends
- Starting to take a bottle (but the struggle is real)
- Snuggling like crazy
- Listening to songs
- Making tons and tons of flirty eye contact
- Noticing he has a tongue and staring at your mouth when you talk to him
Henry Monthly Archive:
Four months was too long between our family visits!! The last time we were all together in one place was back on the family Disney Cruise vacation in March. Now here we were in August finally reuniting and welcoming a new member into our family fold, Mr Henry! Jessie and the littles arrived first on Wednesday night, followed by my parents, and lastly my brother joined the group. We had a week together to connect, share, love, laugh, and explore. It went by in a blink but while we were together is was a perfect visit. Watching the littles play with Henry was heart warming. They were so interested in him. It was clear that they would be even faster friends once Henry is a little older to play with them more. We played hard in the mornings at home and went out on little outings during the day and relaxed together at home at night. It was a sweet visit and I am truly looking forward to our next one in December for Christmas (although, I am sure there will be many Skype sessions in between).
Hanging out in our pjs at home were some of my favorite times. The littles and Henry played, and played and played and the adults watched, joined in, and connected with one another over coffee. It was mellow but exactly what we all needed.
We spent a beautiful evening at a nearby park when the air was cool and crisp and then planned our next day to be spent out at Belkin Family Farm in Natick where we picked nectarines and apples and explored the property together. It was a great excursion for us and the littles who were so interested in picking fruit and tasting it straight off the branch.
This past week was very special for Henry. He had the opportunity to meet his uncle Bryan, aunt Jessie, and the littles. He also spent time with Mema and Pepa and met his auntie Kaelin too. Many of our wonderful family and friends came together both to visit and to celebrate the little man’s christening. After a week of spending time together in the city and around the neighborhood, we topped off the wonderful visit (which I will blog about in a separate post) with a little sprinkle of holy water. The day was beautiful, the service special, and being together as a family the best of all. It is moments like these that make the distance between us hard, but the time we get together truly special.