I’m on month 3 of maternity leave with baby number two, and that feeling I had with my last leave is creeping up again: jealousy. When my husband gets up for work weekday mornings, I feel a pang of jealousy.
It’s the little things, like seeing other adults (or anyone that doesn’t puke on you or tantrum for more iPad time), knowing he’ll eat his lunch with both hands while it’s still hot, and going to the bathroom alone without the screaming sounds of an agitated baby.
And there’s my newly discovered most dreaded time of day: after school, when the four-year-old is circling the drain in tiredness, and the baby hates to be anywhere but in arms while trying to make dinner.
I’m outnumbered and it’s like a triage situation. Who do you appease first to minimize tears and freak-outs? Having two is a new kind of chaos. I seriously don’t know how parents with more than two do it. You are saints with infinite patience.
I miss work, and I’m sure my husband thinks I’m nuts. But I miss that sense of purpose, of brain use, of clothing without elastic waist, makeup, and gossiping with co-workers. I want to go to there!
I know there are unfortunate aspects of my husband’s day too, like the commute via public transit, unpleasant work politics, and other sources of stress. But when he’s strolling out the door, hair styled in a dapper ensemble, and I’m on the couch looking like Medusa while physically buried under my children, I only think about his ability to spring forth into freedom.
Admittedly, I have a tough time with maternity leave. I love my kids, I love them with everything I have, but being home all day makes me weird.
I have worked my entire life. I was never able to take time off between school and working full time. The birth of my daughter was my first stretch of time out of the work force, and I struggled. I’d never had a kid before, I didn’t know what the hell I was doing, and I had some post partum blues (though I didn’t know it at the time).
I realize I could go back early, but my son is too little, and I just can’t do it. I know what I signed up for, and that it was my decision to go down this road again, but it doesn’t change the fact that it’s hard.
Thank god for those moments – you know the ones – when you manage to make your baby laugh and smile, and when all your four-year-old wants is for you to cuddle her a minute longer at bedtime. Those moments help me to remember that while there’s a great big world out there, and I really want to be in it, babies don’t stay babies forever.
I know before I know it I’ll be missing the days they needed me so much.