This week I had to travel out of town for a conference for work, I flew out first thing Saturday morning, and got back just barely in time for bedtime Wednesday night. That was 5 – F.I.V.E. – full days away from my little girl. It was brutal.
I know it might make me sound like an over obsessive helicopter mom, but five days away is at least 3 too many for me. I will be honest, that first night in a hotel room with a giant comfy bed all to myself, that was glorious. The second night, still pretty good, but by that third night all I wanted was my sweet little girl cuddled in my lap.
Regular readers know I have been working through post-partum depression and anxiety for quite some time. In the past few months I’ve felt like I magically made it over a giant hurdle. I’ve been feeling really good, positive, and stable – the most like my normal self I’ve felt since having my daughter. This has been great, it’s been like a huge weight lifted off of my shoulders. That’s not to say suddenly everything in my life is perfect and there are no complications or issues, quite the opposite in fact, but I’m able to look at those problems in a different light. I don’t see these things and feel like there’s no hope anymore.
All of that said, by day 3 away from my daughter (and my husband) I was beginning to feel those old familiar feelings of depression creeping in. I just wanted to sit and cry because I couldn’t stand to sit through one more “presentation” that was really an excuse for the presenter/s to just talk to hear themselves talk, all I wanted was to get home to my baby.
I’ve long believed, and I really think I’m right, my post-partum depression was triggered by returning to work when my daughter was 14 weeks old. And I believe that trigger was related to the fact that we were separated for those first days of our new life together as a mother and a daughter. I can’t tell you why this experience left such a lasting impact on me as a woman and a mother. Maybe it’s because prior to the separation at her birth I went through 33 weeks of pregnancy in almost constant fear that I would lose her, or maybe I was always destined to be a mother that doesn’t like separation from her child, I will never know.
I do know that these 5 days away solidified, and clarified, in my mind the realization that for me, my daughter is absolutely the most important thing in my life. Wow, real light bulb illumination right there, huh? I know, I would expect every parent out there to say the same thing, and to mean it, so what about this is different for me? For me, what this means is that I don’t really want to live in a world or work in a job that doesn’t or can’t give me ultimate flexibility when it comes to my daughter. Yeah, I’m asking for the moon I know. But tell me, why is wanting and expecting flexibility to be the best parent I can be considered equivalent to asking for the moon? Why shouldn’t we expect society to support the roles of parents and to help parents be the best they can be? Our children are the futures of our country and the world, don’t we want them raised well, with love and compassion?
And I’ll go a little further, because I so often hear comments that it’s not fair for parents to expect special treatment just because we chose to procreate (although raising a 2 1/2 going on 13 year old is not a cakewalk folks), let’s include everyone here. Why shouldn’t we all be asking for more flexibility to live our best, happiest, and most balanced lives? The desire to have a happy and balanced life shouldn’t be considered lazy, in fact a happy and satisfied person can contribute more and better quality of work than someone who is overworked, frazzled, and miserable. Why have we allowed society in America to become all about the mighty dollar, to the extent that we really have forgotten about the person?
I don’t actually have any answers here. I’m not going to quit my job tomorrow, but I will push for the most flexibility I can achieve (and be thankful I am in a position that can try to push that boundary a bit – I know not everyone is), and I’ll be brainstorming and looking for a solution that maybe gives me everything I want. It will take time, I know, Rome wasn’t built in a day, but I just no longer see a reason for not standing up and saying this is what I want, this is what I expect, and it is not crazy to ask for it!
For now though, I’m home with my girl. We have a weekend of cuddles and camping ahead of us (oh yes, camping with a toddler, I’ll tell you all about it next week!). I’m going to hug her tight, and remember that she is my reason for everything. Maybe I am the creepy mom from “I’ll Love You Forever”, but you know what, I don’t even care right now – right now I am home and it feels good.