When my son was born, I took took three months of semi-paid maternity leave and psyched myself up for being a working mother. I picked up some new clothes and heels and got to know my pump. But as the days of my leave ticked down, I realized that nothing about going back to work excited me. Not the work itself – boring and relatively unimportant. Not the people – mere acquaintances. As I approached the big day, I started hatching escape plans in my mind. In the end, running away with my baby to live off the land did not seem reasonable, so I packed up a cooler full of empty bottles and some extra nursing pads and shuffled off to work.
Now that I am back at work, it is everything I expected. Exhausting, unfulfilling, and sad. I work hard. And instead of taking breaks, I am hooked up to a breast pump. The baby is still up several times at night, and I cry each day from loneliness and exhaustion behind my closed office door. By the time I get home, my son is hungry and tired. I feed him, put him to bed, and if I’m lucky, I have enough time to read the notes his caregiver left about what he did that day in an attempt to feel more involved. During the week, I exist in the outskirts of his life.