Here I am, two months back at work and one week away from another five month leave of absence, and I have to tell you – adjusting to work is hard.
When I started writing this, my story-telling quickly devolved into lengthy explanations of some of the difficulties of being a nursing Flight Attendant. I just deleted over 1500 words that would have bored you to tears!
So I’ll give you the short version: being back at work is awesome and devastating, all at the same time.
I love having the paycheck; financially, we can really use my income. Taking the pressure off there is a fabulous stress-reliever!
I hate being forced to pump in awkward places (like in public with a nursing cover over me) and spending every waking moment ensuring the milk stays properly cold, when I have no reliable source of refrigeration.
I love getting to have a pseudo-break; I’m never really NOT a Mama…even on the road I have to diagnose, make decisions, and worry my fool head off over the phone. However, on the road I DO get to take uninterrupted, lengthy showers, pee in private, and choose exactly how I will spend my limited free time.
(You know, after I’ve worked all day, pumped every 3 hours, stored milk, cooked my food, cleaned up after myself, slept, showered, and all that jazz. My whopping hour a day to myself still feels glorious!)
I am amused by the fact that even though I love the pseudo-break, I still find myself not actually wanting to do much on my layovers because, well, I’d rather be home. And if I’m not going to be at home, I’d rather sleep. Or bathe. Or just lounge on the bed in the hotel staring at a TV screen and feeling my brain turn off.
Going out just feels sort of like work, which is the oddest thing because most Flight Attendants take the job because we love to travel and see new things!
I hate the commute. Here’s an example of why: Monday morning I woke up in Boston, flew to Newark, then flew my final flight for this work assignment to San Francisco. I was finished with work at 3:00 p.m. At 5:30 p.m. I was sitting as a passenger on a flight to Newark! We landed at 2:00 a.m., I spent the night sleeping in the airport, and at 8:30 a.m. I was on a flight back to my home. We landed at 10:20 a.m.
Accounting for the time change, that was a 17 hour commute that spanned the entire country. I did the same thing in order to get TO work on Thursday. Pretty crazy!
I’m flustered by the fact that I used to be an expert packer, but now I have two littles running around distracting me and I keep forgetting very important things. Things like my stevia and breast shields for my breast pump (oh, yes, that happened!)
To fix that, I’m making up a “Master Packing List” of every single item I need to carry with me and laminating it. Then every time I go to work I can cross off each item with a dry erase marker, and when I’m done packing can wipe it clean and use it next time.
Being so scatter-brained is not my normal modus operandi at work, and it flusters and frustrates me.
I’m excited by the idea of one day being able to take my kids on grand adventures all over the world – for free! Since homeschooling seems to be becoming the educational method of choice for our family, just think of the possibilities!
Studying the Revolutionary War? How about a trip to Boston, Philadelphia, and Baltimore! Studying World War II? Let’s go to Normandy! Visit Dachau! (Been there, done that; gut-wrenching and horrible. But still something the kids should see.)
See? There are some great opportunities in our future thanks to my job, and I intend to use it all to the fullest.
Until then, though, I have a very big, huge, stab-Mama-in-the-heart ‘hate’ to get through: Jed doesn’t like me going to work.
I’ve suspected he’s been “acting out” a bit for a while now, but yesterday really drove it home. For this trip, because we were still in the early stages of the Ali trial for Zac, we decided it was prudent to have Jed go to my parents house from Thursday on so Darrel and Zac could be alone.
That way Darrel could really keep an eagle-eye on Zac for any reaction signs, and if, Heaven forbid, an ER trip was necessary, Darrel would not have to scramble to find child-care for Jed at such an urgent moment in time.
We tried to play it up as a Great Thing: “Jed! Guess what! You’re going to get to spend the weekend with Grandma and PopPop all by yourself! You’ll get to play and dig and be the center of their universe!” And at first, Jed seemed really excited by the idea.
Within an hour of being alone with Grandma and PopPop, though, Jed decided he didn’t like this. He was telling a story about something and mentioned Zac to my Mom, and suddenly realized – Zac wasn’t WITH HIM.
“Jed go Zac. Take Jed home, Grandma!” he told her.
Ugh. In our logistical planning we’d forgotten one vital fact: Jed and Zac have never been apart since Zac was born (not counting the week in the hospital last summer).
And Jed now goes up to Zac and says “Baby Zac. Baby brother. Jed friend.” and kisses him – several times a day.
We completely didn’t consider that Jed would miss Zac.
We also didn’t completely consider that Jed would miss Daddy. He made that clear on the second day of his stay, when he told Mom to “Take Jed home. Take Jed Daddy. Take Jed Zac.” Then he told me on the phone “Mommy come back. Mommy stop flying.”
Ugh. Twist the knife, why dontcha?
Sunday afternoon Darrel drove Zac over to my parents house. We were confident an acute FPIES reaction was not likely to happen, and Darrel had to go to work on Monday. So Jed got to have his brother back and his Daddy back and he was THRILLED!
He ran after his little brother shouting “Zachayiyah! No!” any time Zac started to get into anything he shouldn’t, grabbed wooden toys and took them to Mom to protect Zac, and hugged and kissed Zac as much as Zac would tolerate.
Then Darrel left to go home, and Jed didn’t like that very much at all.
He took the opportunity to talk to me briefly on the phone on both Sunday and Monday to tell me – again – to stop flying and come home. Otherwise, he refused to speak to me on the phone.
Yesterday, when I got home and got in the car with the kids, Jed refused to hug or kiss me. When I told him “Oh, Jed! I’m so happy to be home! I missed you so much! I love you, Snickerdoodle!”
He looked me right in the face and said “Mommy no love Jed. Mommy go away.”
At dinner, he finally started to show some affection towards me: desperate, clingy affection. Suddenly he HAD to be on my lap, hugging me for all he was worth, telling me that “Jed no like Mommy go flying” and “Jed miss Mommy” and “Jed sad Mommy fly”.
I tried to reassure him…lots of hugs and kisses, and I wanted to give him something to cling to – my five months off that are right around the corner!
So I told him that I hated leaving him, too, but that Mommy sometimes had to go to work. I said that I thought about him all the time I was gone and missed him horribly.
He liked that; hugged me harder and smiled.
Then I ruined it.
“And after I go to work next week and come home, I’ll be home for FIVE WHOLE MONTHS!”
His little body actually shriveled up before my eyes when I said that. He pulled away from me and hung his head, and suddenly he wanted off my lap.
Dumb Mommy moment: he’s too young to understand calendars! “Months” are a concept beyond him right now. What he understood about that comment was that “Mommy is going away again”…and he got sad.
After showers, getting ready for bed, he kept insisting that he “Sleep Mommy”. I promised him that as soon as I got his brother to bed, I’d come snuggle with him. It was the only way he would willingly leave my side.
Break. My. Heart.
I hate that Jed hates me leaving for work.
On the bright side…does that boy love his Mama, or what?!
Now to just survive one more week without permanent abandonment issues popping up…and maybe in February he’ll be able to understand a little more about my job. Like days of the week and the concept of how long I’ll be gone.
I think I know what our first home school lessons need to be!
Anyone else have to travel for work and leave your kids behind? How did you make it not miserable for them when you left?