Thursday, December 11, 2014

Multiple Identities

For the past five-plus weeks, this career-driven feminist has transformed into a mother. A new mother, who mostly wears workout pants and "dressing up" is a pair of jeans to leave the house. I've swapped the work bag for a diaper bag and the morning meetings for cuddles and attempting to sleep when the baby sleeps. My life has completely revolved around feeding times and my goals and anxieties are now related to pumping enough milk, getting our daughter to sleep in her crib, and trying to figure out what her cries mean when she is just plain irritable.

There have been times, usually after long nights of little sleep and being unable to decipher her cries, that I have told C I'm not cut out to be a stay-at-home-mom. Then he usually gets panicky and asks me not to rush back to work and I promise I won't. I can't imagine leaving her for a full day and I still enjoy spending my days holding her and gazing into her perfectly beautiful features.

On Monday, Beula had a doctor's appointment in the building where I work half the week. After her appointment, we stopped by my department to visit with my colleagues. Everyone said that they missed me and I honestly told them I missed them as well. I said that I wish could be cloned, so that I could both return to work and also not leave my daughter.

Yesterday, I had to return to the office for a meeting and my annual performance review. My original plan was to just go in for an hour, but then there were complications that required me to be there for several hours, most of which were unscheduled. Not having enough breast milk stored yet, I decided to take Beula along. This was partially due to the practicality of her needing to eat, partially due to wanting my other set of colleagues to meet her, and largely due to making a point that I was being expected to show up at work 5 weeks into my maternity leave.

So I got dressed up in my nicer work attire, suit-coat and all, and packed up my daughter in her cutest onsie. I put my office files into the diaper bag and off we went. One of my colleagues watched her during my performance review and I brought her into the other, less formal, meetings. I spent the rest of the time walking around and visiting in my suit with a burp cloth over my shoulder and a wrapped infant in my arms. I imagine that I looked nearly as bizarre as I felt: one part accomplished professional and one part mommy. I mentioned this bizarre feeling to my supervisor, how it felt that I was sporting two conflicting identities, and then realized that this was probably a feeling I was going to have to get used to.