Tuesday, March 25, 2014

A month's worth of transitions

That's what it's all felt like since the end of February. One big transition, with a thousand little transitions nesting within the big one. Ask me if my frontal lobes are tired.

I'm at work right now, and this seems to be the only time I can write. Which is to say, I suck as an employee. But I suck more as a blogger these days, so I'll preempt my good-worker conscience.

Status updates, in no particular order:

1) I really like soy lattes. It's a struggle not to stop by the coffee shop that makes good ones everyday.  I'm having one right now. Ah-mmmmm (as Gummy would say)

2) Work is going well so far. I am thankful for this job. I am thankful for my great co-workers. I am thankful to work in a place where my work is valued, and where I value others' work. This job doesn't have everything I need, but it has a lot of what I need.

3) The commute is killing me. Physically. Psychologically. One day last week I spent 3.5 hours in the car. Typically, it's closer to 2.25-2.5 hours, which is still way the heck too much. When I was in my early 20s, I promised myself that no matter what, I would never spend hours in the car commuting once I became a grown up for reals. I am disconcertingly breaking that promise.

4) In the car, I think of all the emails, thank you cards, books, household chores, and most importantly, TIME WITH GUMMY that I am not writing/reading/doing/spending. See third sentence of point 3.  

5) Because of 3, I look at the job postings everyday for something even marginally closer.

6) Because of 2, I continue to feel ambivalent, and I keep telling myself to find my peace with the commute and with the few things missing from this job.

7) Gummy had a very rough first day when I went back to work (as you read in my last post), and continued to be iffy for the week. The following two weeks, she treated me like I was a stranger. She displayed stranger anxiety with her own mother. Luckily, given what I know professionally, I was ok with it. Knowing that she needed a reliable caregiver, and that this caregiver was now dad, I was reassured to see her count on him to meet her needs. Personally, it hurt. A lot.

8) Interestingly, having children means you get to work on your conditioned patterns. A big one I got to revisit with Gummy's new way of relating to me was: At the slightest whiff of rejection, I walk away. And by walk away, I mean I am out of there emotionally, mentally, and sometimes physically. That's worked fine in my life so far. Except, it quickly became clear that this strategy wasn't going to work with my own child. She wasn't actually rejecting me and she sure needs me to check IN, not check out right now. So, while I didn't have the time for a long, reflective journaling session at the local coffee shop to ponder the depths of this awful, previously useful pattern, I've given it a lot of thought (yes. in the car). My work is to stay connected to her no matter how she feels; Love her, no matter what she is doing; Support her, no matter who she is favouring as her primary caregiver. I need to be steady in my love and support, so that she can learn to feel steady inside. Small task.

9) I had booked off all the Fridays in March as a means to transition from being at home full time to working full time. I have asked and been granted an extension on that. I looked at how much I was struggling with what was happening, and decided that the responsible thing to do was to ask for more time.

10) Gummy goes for accompanied visits to the day care this week, and starts in earnest next week. Now that she's used to being at home with dad, we'll rock her world a little more.

11) To protest the impending change, she contracted a stomach virus and puked all over me last night (and was up from 2:30 to 5am. Poor peanut was feeling awful).

12) My dear friend Veronica just sustained miscarriage #4, with an added bonus of a hemorrhage for this one. Please spare any good thoughts you have for her.

13) After one too many night of stretching leftovers and eating toast for supper, I bought a slow cooker. Hoping this helps with our 6pm unhappy hour. If that fails, I'll just up my alcohol consumption.

14) Fuck, I'm turning 40. In less than a month.       

Monday, March 3, 2014

out of sorts

Today was the day, after 54 weeks* at home, that I was expected to returned to work. And so, that's what I did. I was looking forward to it, in all honesty. I needed a break. Adult conversations. Psychology conversations. Case conversations. All things I get to have at work.

The day was off to a good start. Getting ready, playing with Gummy, having breakfast together. The goodbye went well.

People at work were sweet. There were flowers waiting for me on my desk, with cards signed by my colleagues, chocolates, tea. Oh, my colleagues are great! What a way to welcome me back.

It was mentioned that I looked very relaxed, and when I said that Gummy was with her dad, they understood why. I wasn't stressing about a rough transition to daycare because that's not happening right now.

I drove home feeling like my first day had been a success. Very much unlike me, I hadn't cried once.

Then I got home. I was told Gummy cried on and off all day. That she had a hard time eating. She seemed exhausted, but still ate her supper and had her bath, however cranky she was at various stages of the evening routine (including one random and very intense burst of wailing and tears while eating supper).

It seemed clear that I would be the one putting her to bed tonight, which is usually something Mr. A and I discuss or coin toss (because we both want to). But she would not have it. She was so out of sorts, the poor thing. She wailed and thrashed in my arms and insisted that dad put her to bed. That was a first.

It was hard, but I know she's just out of sorts. Of course, I cried a little after that. It's really hard on her and what is hard is my absence. An absence I even enjoyed.

So, yeah. Let's just say I was ready to throw away this career in a heartbeat. But I went out for a walk in the %&# cold night, and it helped cool off my thoughts.

She's just out of sorts.

How can she learn distress tolerance without distress. How can she learn to regulate her emotions without being faced with emotion-producing situations (beyond 'the cat won't let me pull her ears off').

still, I learned something deeper about mother guilt tonight.

* 52 weeks of parental week + 2 weeks short-term disability last February