It’s 5 a.m. and the first of my alarms goes off.
I have to set several, I’ve learned the hard way that I’m not to be trusted with the snooze button. I hit snooze (See? Told ya so...) and burrow back into the covers, willing the new day to wait just a few more minutes.
Instead, I hear the baby stirring.
And so my day begins.
I trudge to his room to nurse him, trying to reach him before his whimpers turn into wails and he wakes his big sister. I’m partially successful, we get halfway through the feeding before my 3-year-old wakes up and starts calling for me from her bed.
I call back to her and tell her to come join us. She crawls in my lap and I sit in the glider underneath the weight of both of my children, I push my feet against the plush ottoman to rock us back and forth, back and forth…
It’s soothing: this quiet moment with my babies. Or at least, it should be. But, my mind starts to spin with the things I need to get done that day. I know I have a few e-mails to respond to, some reports due out and what else?
I can’t fully remember in my under-caffeinated state.
“Mommy? Please you put my hair in a ponytail like Rapunzel?”
My daughter’s request snaps me back into mama mode and I smile and say yes. We make our way to the bathroom so I can smooth the tangles out of her hair and get her ready for the day.
It’s hard, sometimes. Not thinking about work when I’m at home.
Eventually, miraculously, I make it to work on time and settle into my routine. Coffee, e-mail, making my to-do list. The day moves quickly–and that’s by design. I do my best to stay as busy as possible so I don’t have time to let my mind wander.
Even so, I find myself glancing at my phone to make sure I haven’t missed a call from daycare. I spend most of my lunch time trying to figure out the perfect place for my daughter to take gymnastics, as it’s all she’s been talking about lately. I take a break to pump milk for the baby.
And random things remind me of random things. My coworker talks of her daughter’s cheer competition and that reminds me I need to pay the invoice for ballet. I nearly spill the milk I just pumped and I remember I need to add milk to the grocery list–and what else? Eggs, maybe? I can’t fully remember in between the hustle and bustle of my work day.
The phone rings, my e-mail pings and I’m back to work.
It’s hard, sometimes. Not thinking about home when I’m at work.
I hurry out the door at the end of the day, eager to pick up my kids from school. My heart melts when the baby beams at me from across the room and attempts to army crawl toward me. I put him on my hip as we head toward my daughter’s class.
She shows me everything she’s done that day and I smile and nod while walking toward her cubby–I know there will be a bag of soiled clothes in there because she’s not wearing the pants I sent her to school in that morning. Another day, another accident. Such is the life of a potty-training child.
When we get home I toss the soiled clothes in the washer to be dealt with later and we head outside to play. I’m still in my work clothes–and I don’t even care. We skip and sing and play pretend until dusk. I do my best to slow my mind down, to not worry about the things left undone so I can focus on teaching my daughter how to draw flowers with sidewalk chalk on the driveway. So I can cheer as the baby rolls over for the umpteenth time.
It’s hard, sometimes. Making the pivot from professional to mama.
Dinner, bath, and bedtime come too quickly–they always do. I worry as the evening turns to night that I’m not doing enough. Do they feel loved? Do they feel valued? Do they know that I’m here for them–even when we’re apart? Do they know that when I go to work each day, it’s for them?
At the end of the day, my daughter and I curl up to read books in her bed. As we settle in, she nestles her head into the crook of my arm. Her messy curls spill onto my shoulder and brush against my cheek. She flings an arm across my neck and softly whispers, “I love you, mommy.”
And I know I’m doing something right.