The Real Work

9.08.08 Baby's 17th Week


I've rejoined the ranks of people who stand on a crowded subway in the morning. I'll be going in to do some cookbook work for 4 mornings a week for the next month and a half. My first morning back, I'd been up since 4:30, I was schlepping a huge breast pump, and I was in a panic about whether I'd left enough milk for Leo, whether he'd nap, and whether he'd prove so un-babysittable that I'd be forced to come home after an hour. To the outside observer I probably looked like a self-sufficient adult capable of commuting to Manhattan on her feet. No one's offering me seats these days.

By the time I got to the office I had worked myself into a state of anxiety, but there was something calming about the place... Ah yes, baby-free. Nobody crying or pooping on the furniture, just a bunch of pleasant grown-ups using inside voices and manipulating objects with both hands at the same time. While sitting still! Not a bad place to take a load off, do some computer stuff, and enjoy a sandwich at a leisurely pace. Yup, work is much easier than being a mom.

Even pumping in a locked, windowless room full of cookbooks is somewhat peaceful. I flip through pictures of Leo on my camera as Nurse Nippler (um, we named my breast pump) sucks away. It's just my first week, but so far, being at work is the best part of the whole scenario by far. Coming home to a needy baby and tired sitter (my best-friend Steph, who's on maternity leave, for 3 days a week, my parents tag-teaming on the 4th) is a culture shock.

Crying, pooping, shrieking just for fun, insisting on being held while I attempt to wash my hands, Leo is altogether the toughest boss I've ever had. But when I come in, he smiles and I feel a wave of warm, loving relief to see him looking healthy and absolutely fine. And we take a little nap together to recover from our separation, which is one of the rare times when I feel like we both want to be doing the exact same thing—and the sweetest thing a tired mom and baby can do at that.

During the afternoon, Leo is a hard taskmaster and nothing is quite to his liking. But having had a bit of a break in the morning, I find myself with energy after he's in bed. I went for a run last night to begin training for the Miles for Midwives run I'm planning to do. Tonight I made pilaf to go with some leftover barbecued chicken and steamed broccoli. I thought working would be hard, I though finding time to exercise would be hard, and I thought making dinner would be hard, but those aren't the hardest parts at all. What is hard—so hard I feel like I could burst into tears if someone looks at me the wrong way—is being away from Leo. And liking it.

Corn and Zucchini Pilaf