Falling Leave

When I was 15 and learning to drive, I announced to my father that I’d probably just always go five miles under the speed limit, to be on the safe side.

I have a history of making pronouncements that in no way end up resembling reality.

Which explains why, eight weeks ago, I announced in conversation that I was looking forward to returning to work because “I think it’s important for me to still maintain the career aspect of my life.” Eight weeks ago I was still recovering from being gobsmacked by the whole process of childbirth and stay-at-home mothering. Breastfeeding still hurt some of the time and didn’t work particularly well a lot of the time. I couldn’t always identify why she was crying. I would clock-watch, counting the minutes until my husband walked through the door.

Now I’m clock-watching, willing it to stop.¬†It’s my last day of maternity leave.

I’ve spent the past week reflecting on my time with my little buddy. How, together, we watched summer melt into fall and now turn to Christmas. How I learned that she loves to move, so we’d stroll at least two or three miles a day — to the White House, to Dupont Circle, to the zoo to visit the tiger and the lion. How she does this eyebrows-raise, eyelids-stay-closed thing when she’s sleeping and the breeze hits her face. How she thinks nobody sings Adele’s “Melt My Heart to Stone” better than me. How two hours of wailing are negated by two seconds of giggling.

She’ll only be a block away from me when I’m at work and she’s at daycare. The women there are loving and gentle — the best for which you can hope when you’re handing over your tiny daughter and silently praying, “Please have as much fun with her as I did.”

I’m sure that after the initial days and weeks pass, having to hand her over will get easier.

I have a history of making pronouncements that in no way end up resembling reality.


10 Responses to “Falling Leave”

  1. Priscilla Says:

    One day, your daughter will be privileged to be proud of the professional accomplshments of the mother she so loves. No, it’s not easy, but you will be giving her a gift of incredible value. Take it from one who has been there, as a mother AND a daughter.

  2. Justin Says:

    I’ve been worried about how the hell I’ll be able to go to work once my little man shows up knowing that he is out there, somewhere, without me. It’s tough enough being away right now…

  3. Daddy O Says:

    It is only the first of many times you will recall the old adage, “We need to give our children roots and wings.”

  4. Kristen Says:

    I’ll tell you, it’s not easy, and it sucks leaving them, especially the first couple months.

    But, at the same time, they start developing friendships and their personalities and before you know it, they’re 2 years old and counting to 20 (almost) and pushing away wannabe suitors and singing songs spontaneously and you realize that all that heartache at the start of it was worth it, because you’re got a fun little person with a whole bunch of cool stuff going on in their own little lives.

  5. Eric Says:

    The heart breaker for me was when I took Sophia to her first real school (ok it was preschool) and she ran into the room, set down her backpack and turned to me and said, “Ok Dad you can leave now”. I did leave but with a huge smile on my face and some “dust” in my eyes.

  6. Lisa Says:

    This was beautiful. Reading this, I feel it in my heart, my stomach, my tightening throat, my welling eyes.

  7. Kelly Says:

    O god, this was heartbreaking and beautiful. It warmed and stilled me at once. Thinking of you and your sweet sweetums.

  8. Luna Says:

    Beautiful post. I’m misty-eyed. I hope your return to work goes smoothly. It won’t be easy, but at least you’ll be close-by if you feel the urge to check in for a hug or a snuggle.

  9. Skywalker Says:

    I hear ya. I just gave birth last week and now I want to spend time getting to bond with my lil lady. I hope that you can comment on work – life balance in a few weeks. I told my new boss that I was coming back during our crunch time…that is going to be fun (note the sarcasm) and I get to spend that time with my in laws…heaven help me.

    Good luck.

  10. sweetbabyjack Says:

    This just made me cry. There will be a point at which you realize you did make the right decision (I hit mine at about 8 months). But it will never be easy to say goodbye in the morning. Even when she’s taller than you.

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