File this under the new parents learning curve: when your baby cries, it doesn’t mean something horrible has happened to them. Example: many times throughout the day, we have to move Baby O from one place or activity to another. From his crib under the mobile he loves to the sheepskin rug in our bedroom to get dressed. From his Boppy lounger to the carseat to go out. From the comfort of one of his moms arms to the K’tan carrier for a walk. And very often he meets these changes with tears. At first we took his crying as a sign that he didn’t like something. We’d be quick to determine he doesn’t like the K’Tan! or that we’d disrupted his development by cutting short his mobile-watching time! But then we noticed he also cried when shifting to something he loves – such as getting his outfit changed on our sheepskin rug (I mean, who doesn’t want to lay half naked on a soft sheepskin rug?).
And so we learned: transitions are hard and Baby O doesn’t like them.
And who does.
Not me. Not right now, anyway. I’m about to make a big transition – tomorrow I go back to work after 16 weeks of maternity leave. And I’m feeling all kinds of things – anxiety, sadness, curiosity, even a glimmer of excitement, and some guilt. And denial – I’m clinging desperately to denial like it’s a melting snowman that’s about to be entirely gone. (I figure denial will get me through at least until Wednesday, right?!)
Eventually I will have much more to say – perhaps some pearls of wisdom gleaned from the challenge. But as I’ve learned before with parenting, so much feels literally impossible until you do it. Right now, it feels actually not possible to be away from him all day and so I will just trust that’s not the case. Check back with me in a week on this.
And I am equally comforted and nervous by the fact that every mom I’ve talked to about my return to work has responded with a cringe, an apology and – almost to a person – the guidance that I should expect to cry.
So instead of trying to wrap my head around It All, to grasp what this period of my life (and Baby O’s life) has meant, or to know how exactly to best approach working parenthood, I’ll just take the leap and cling closely to the lesson I’ve learned from my kid: Transitions are hard. They don’t stop being hard as we get older, we just get better at them. But sometimes, we still need to cry.