Friday, March 02, 2018

back to work.

Mabel at 4 months old. Photo: Kandise Brown

Yesterday was my first day back at work since Mabel was born and I have so many feelings and thoughts about it. But let me back up a bit first and tell you how lucky I am.

I work at a Canadian school in Beijing and as part of my contract, they follow Canada's maternity leave policy, so I am entitled to a year off. Mabel was born last year with 3 weeks of school left, and on my intended return date this year, there would also be 3 weeks left. Instead of working those 3 weeks full time, my principal proposed that I work 1 day/week for the rest of the school year beginning yesterday. Yes, it means leaving Mabel 3 months earlier, but only 1 day a week! And I can come home at lunch to nurse her (our apartment is on the school campus)! And I was home by 3:45! Lucky!


I still cried 4x yesterday though.

The first was as I was walking to school and a colleague asked how I was and I said, "I'm okay" and then started to cry. I tried not to, but it couldn't be helped. Thankfully that person handled the potentially awkward walk to school with grace and made me feel better about my crying.

Then I cried when the teacher I was supplying for asked how I was.

I don't remember the third time I cried, but I know it happened.

And then I cried when I got home from work at the end of the day and saw Mabel, who smiled so big and threw her arms up in the air when I walked in the door, as if to say, "Yay! You're back!"


When T and I got home yesterday for lunch (we take the same lunch break), Mabel was excited to see me but it was clear that it was only for my boobs and the milk they contain. When she was done eating, she only had eyes for her baba, just like every other day when he comes home for lunch. I was like, "Hey kid, I was gone all morning, too! What am I, chopped liver?"

It hurt a bit that she didn't seem to care, but I was also glad about it. Obviously our time apart isn't bothering her too much. And I guess that's been her lunchtime routine almost every day from the time she was two weeks old: Baba comes home! Yay!


I forgot how exhausting teaching can be. I forgot how fun it can be. I forgot how much I love "my kiddos"—even when they're students I just met for the first time.

I didn't know how exhausting teaching can be when you're still waking up through the night with a baby. I didn't know how hard it can be to feed your baby and pump and feed yourself on a lunch break. I didn't know how I'd feel leaving my baby to teach other people's babies.


I applaud—standing ovation level applaud!—all of you moms who have had or will have to return to work when your baby is a few weeks or a few months old. I know if I had to I would, because moms specialize in doing what needs to be done, but man, it would be HARD (understatement).

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