Today was my wife, Susan’s first day back to work. We’d been talking about this moment for weeks now, alternating between “it’ll be OK, he’ll be fine” to “mommy stays home and daddy gets a second job!” We’d spent time looking at daycare, looking for nannies (both subjects that I’ll write about in future posts), figuring out our logistics for the morning and the evenings, division of labor to make sure everything is ready for Nathan and his nanny when the ‘rents aren’t around, and worrying about how much he’ll miss his mom (and then about how much his mom will miss him). Still, we had a heck of a time getting ready this morning despite all the pre-planning we did last night.
Last night, we wrote out everything that we needed to do this morning and laid out all the materiel that we’d need so we could execute on our morning plan with military precision. We restacked all the frozen bags of breastmilk and reorganized our freezer for maximum accessibility and ease of finding the right bag with the right date on it (use the oldest ones first). We wrote out the instructions for our nanny and we wrote out instructions to ourselves so we’d remember to do them when we woke up and were all groggy and sleepy. We set our alarms for 6am and then went to bed.
This morning, Nathan wakes up at 5:30 in the morning, and as we planned we pick him up out of his crib at 6am and start our new morning routine. Things were looking pretty smooth when all of a sudden we find a big leak from the apartment upstairs causing water to drip from the living room ceiling. So we scramble to contact our landlady, and then the upstairs people, and then to catch up to our morning plan since Susan has to get ready and try to get to work by 7 so she can leave early in the afternoon. Needless to say, we did a lot of rushing and running around and going slightly crazy to make sure that my wife left on time, that we had everything ready for the nanny’s first day by herself with Nathan, make sure he’s fed and entertained for the morning, and get myself ready to go to work.
OK, that was the madness that was our morning, and on the my drive to work, a couple of things struck me. First, last night while we were doing our prep work, my wife had a micro-breakdown where she cried a little about leaving Nathan. She quickly recovered, but truth be told, today really was the first time that she wasn’t with the baby 24/7 or leave him with a family member. This was her first return to her “old” life, the first day of the rest of her life when she would have to leave the boy at home and go to work. I totally felt for her, felt bad for her and felt bad for Nathan, and although she didn’t see it when I held her, I teared up a little too. I think when I went back to work after my 2 week paternity leave, it was too short for me to really feel the break so strongly, and it was too early and Nathan too young for me to really get a good feel for him as a person. Now, of course, Nathan has a distinct personality that I can relate to and he’s much more interactive. I also felt my pangs this morning, after Susan had left, when I watched him sit in the living room playing with his toys while I got ready myself. How would he do with this nanny all day? Will she play with him and give him the love and attention that Susan or I or his grandmother would give him if we were staying home? Would he miss us?
The second thing that struck me was that this felt all very surreal. I felt like I was part of a TV show or a movie – I had seen this scene before, the one where the parents are scrambling to get ready for work and get the kids ready for school and suddenly this or that happens…and hilarity/drama ensues. I remembered that I had had this sensation one other time – when Nathan was first born and I held this little creature in my hands. I wonder if this is something that all parents go through, this weird sense of “this can’t be my life, right?” every time some new threshold is crossed with the kids. When Nathan goes to daycare or kindergarten, will I have this sensation again?
By the time I got on the freeway, I suddenly felt like my Dad. I don’t mean that I felt like I knew my Dad better or understood what it was like to be in his shoes or anything prosaic like that. I literally mean that I had a weird sensation of being him as he dropped me off to school oh so many years ago. Kinda weird and really hard to explain, but it’s the closest thing to an out-of-body experience I’ve had in my life.
Nathan, this kid, he’s bringing some very unexpected experiences and sensations into my life and mind. I can’t wait for the next big jolt.