I begin this column with a heavy sigh. And then a kick in the butt, because it’s time to man up. After 10 months of unemployment, I’m returning to the workforce. I’m excited about my new career, but like millions of moms and dads everywhere, I miss my son already.
As I prepare to re-enter the race of rats, I think of the things I will miss most about him.
Spontaneous visits. My “office” consists of a blocked-off yet wall-less part of the living room. (He and I are looking at it in the photo to the left!) My son is usually on the other side of the living room. When he wants to visit me, and that can be 10 times an hour, he simply walks around the barrier. I may be deep in thought crafting Hemingway-like prose, but am always happy for his drop-bys, which will now require a subway pass and knowledge of New York City geography that he just doesn’t possess.
- The playground. My son couldn’t crawl when I lost my job. He’s now running and trying to climb, giving me (more) gray hairs, but trailing him as he explores every bit of the playground is the most exhausting relaxing thing I do.
- Elbow, car, knee. He has these words on repeat. Maybe he likes the way they make his mouth feel when he says them.
- Trips to the pediatrician. I’ve been to every checkup, carrying the stroller into the subway, lifting him onto the scale, asking questions. Nothing made me feel more like a dad than when I comforted him in my arms after his MMR vaccination.
- Labeling everything. Xavier points at me. Dada! Dada! Dada! Then across from me. Ma-MEE! Ma-MEE! Then the wall. Wall. Then outside. Car. Then to his wrist. Elbow. (Hey, he’s only 17 months!) Then the letters on his wall. A. Then the door. Go go go! Labeling everything is cute coming from him, but if my new co-workers do it I will think they are crazy.
- The unintentional comedy. He just learned “cute.” Unfortunately, his pronunciation sounds like an ethnic slur. My apologies in advance. No, he thinks you’re attractive. Honest. We didn’t teach him THAT.
- Extra energy. Looking for a job is exhausting, but you typically don’t have to be somewhere at 9 a.m. to do it. You often don’t even have to leave the house. Or shave. Or shower. (Unless your wife eventually insists). And the only late meetings are those you choose to attend. I could devote that extra time to Xavier. Now? We’ll see how it goes, but I’m accepting all suggestions for (legal) pep pills and energy drinks.
- There are plenty more things I will miss, but you don’t have all day, right? I know my son will be fine without me. He has an amazing nanny. And really it’s a win-win for him: Not only will I now have more money to spend, we’ll always have the weekends where I can overcompensate and overindulge to make up for my guilt.
What was the toughest part of returning to the workforce? And what tips do you have for making it an easier transition?
Image via Angela Johnson Meadows