Going back to work after Ruby was pretty easy. I was so overwhelmed as a new mother, so skittish and unsure of myself, that it was a huge relief to be able to leave her in the gentle hands of a woman in the suburbs who loved babies, was an expert on their care and feeding, and go back to my quiet, tidy work of changing commas to semicolons as appropriate and vice versa.
Ruby was a high-energy, high-needs baby, and I was the right combination of gullible, neurotic and naïve to fully believe those books I read that told me that if Ruby was frequently unhappy as a baby, then that would be the mood she would, as an adult, consider normal and feel most comfortable in.
And so at the first whimper, I would spring to my exhausted feet to scoop her up and spend hours doing whatever pleased her tiny baby sensibilities – bouncing, shushing, driving, pacing, dancing – so as not to doom her to a lifetime of misery.
By contrast, my job was an oasis, practically a luxurious spa, in which I could drink hot beverages without fear of spilling on the baby, use both hands to do a task and sit still for longer than 10 minutes without someone shrieking in my ear and demanding to be bounced. Even the few colleagues I didn’t like (fights over “who” versus “whom” can get heated, and no, I’m not even kidding) at least didn’t howl and claw at me and poop their pants.
With Georgia, it’s a different story. Having a baby in May in New Orleans is very different than having a baby in December in Missouri: I was able to leave the house without worrying about slipping on the ice; I never got snowed in; the daylight didn’t end at 4 p.m. Also, I am calmer. I have Ruby’s needs to attend to, as well, and so sometimes Georgia has to wait for things, and if she screams, that’s just too bad; I know it only means an unpleasant few minutes, not a lifetime spent in constant discontent. Then, too, Georgia is an easier baby. She is happy to be picked up, happy to be put down, happy to take a bath, happy to take a car ride. Whatever I have to do, as long as she’s not hungry, tired, binkyless or in a wet diaper, Georgia is pretty much happy to do, too.
So coming back this time has been harder. I love my job. I love my colleagues. But I really miss my baby.