Today we began transitioning Sam, now nine weeks old, into his new daycare. Up until now I’ve informed people who have asked that I am indeed ready to get back to work. This is done with a knowing wink and roll of the eye. In truth, I like my job and I am just now beginning to miss it. I attended a work meeting yesterday and used a creative part of my brain that I quite enjoyed putting to the test (BTW--remind me of this when I write a stressed out post pissing on about my fucking job). For this reason, I need to work. But personal fulfillment aside, we need me to work. Even if I had longings for SAHM-hood, for a variety of reasons right now, it would not really be possible. And that is more than fine with me. Life is good.
And then I read this post by Liz where she considers life with Child Two, and thought of Kristen, swollen and impatient for her boy. And then my husband, after listening to my cheerful report about how great his first few hours went this morning, confessed to feeling guilty about putting Sam into care so young. (With our older, Jack, he was much older and it was part time). And then I reassured him about how this is the Right Thing—how patient and sweet his caregiver is, how happy the babies seem, how calm and relaxed the atmosphere, etc etc.
And then I started to cry.
Like Liz, when we realized that Sam was on the way we had all the same clichéd concerns about not having enough love. Like her, my early relationship with my first was not all "love at first sight." Yes, I had that deep and primordial instinct to protect and nourish, but I fell in love with him as a person as time wore on. And I’m not done falling yet.
But here's what I am learning. Loving my first son and seeing him become his awesome self has made loving the second so much easier. It’s a cliché to say that he has taught me how to love, but sometimes a cliché is one of life’s universals. I look at baby Sam, and I see Jack. And I am made doubly aware as to how brief this time is, when they are so small and so completely in need of you. And so I try and soak up these moments more and I see all this potential. This was something I could only understand theoretically with number one. Then we were much more parents coping in the moment, adjusting to Life With Baby. This, in part, is because Jack was more high maintenance than his brother. (and as a result, we were freaked out parents, which hardly helped matters).
On one level this makes me feel guilty, why couldn’t we be these parents for Jack? But I also realize that this is something that Jack has actually given us—the ability to enjoy the now and also to see all the promise.
And so as we now have to adjust to sharing the care for my new boy, I am suddenly finding it a bit difficult. I don’t regret the decision. I can’t speak highly enough about the place where our boys are cared for (I wish they went through High School). We are lucky enough to be able to afford such good care (don’t get me started on the availability of quality child care for all who need it in this country). We are extremely lucky to be able to leave our children in such a warm and nurturing environment. No these feelings are less about guilt, which I take to be a constant nagging emotion for all mothers really, and more about jealousy and even a small sense of loss.
So is there enough love? Almost too much, ladies. Prepare to have your heart filled and broken all over again.