I don't know if I've ever specifically blogged about it, but I've often termed the hour between when work ends and when I finally get home on days when I pick Jacob up from daycare as the worst hour of my day. You'd think getting out of work would be a relief, and it is, but immediately after that moment of relief I jump right back into insanity...running to my car, dealing with rush hour traffic (which, admittedly isn't bad here in Rochester...I'm spoiled, but that also means that when things slow down even a bit on a road that's normally running at 55mph, I get cranky), and hoping I don't run into any obstacles major enough to make me late for the 6pm pickup time...because God forbid we have to pay $5 for the extra couple minutes of care. Ugh. And while my arrival at daycare all these months should involve a happy, wonderful moment when I get to see the smiling face of my little boy, it hasn't been quite like that. Once I gather up his stuff, drag him out of the building (sometimes literally kicking and screaming), strap him into the carseat, drive home, unload and finally face the challenges of dinner, it's been a busy and generally miserable hour. It's just hectic and at times frustrating.
And for months, I downright hated this process. Why? Because I was worried about what Jacob would throw at me that evening, be it a total no-go at dinner or a night of non-stop whining. There just seems to be something wrong with dreading a period of time at home with your own child. And while that fear and frustration would never win out over the love I have for him, it can turn me into a person I don't so much like. And if I don't like myself, I suppose it's no wonder Jacob would be miserable if he has to spend time with that person as well--regardless of his role in its creation. And don't get me wrong, I get a lot of joy out of spending time with Jacob. But some days, I can only shake my head.
And yes, there are still moments that I roll my eyes when I pick him up from daycare and instead of running to me for a hug like most kids, he smiles for a second and then proceeds to ignore me. He'll try to pull out a new toy or run like a madman down the hall to escape, or at best, show me a new toy in another room. And there are still some nights when I'm tired and a little anxious about how dinner will go--what I'll make, if Jacob will eat it, if my patience will last long enough to not scream at him if he starts throwing food. But lately, I haven't let those things bother me. In general I truly look forward to it all now. The joy of seeing my silly little boy after a long day of work, the fun of him making me laugh on the way home...all of that stuff finally outweighs the fear and frustration. Even though there's still a lot of "work" involved in the going-home process, I'm practically excited to do it every day. Despite Jacob's periodic meltdowns, he's still been such a joy most of the time. Just seeing how much he's growing and learning these days is amazing. Every time he learns a new word, or puts two words or phrases together into a coherent thought, it's like a tiny little miracle.
Perhaps my change in attitude has something to do with less of an excitement about my job. Or maybe vice versa--Perhaps my newfound appreciation for all of this makes me resent my job's intrusion on it all. It's not that I don't like my job--I do. The people I work with are great and there are many elements of it that I enjoy. But there are some that I don't, and there are certain hints that some of those "don'ts" will become a larger part of my job in the future. Regardless, I have to work right now and this isn't a bad place to do it. I'm still not convinced I'd be a great stay-at-home mom anyway. But there are many days that I truly hate leaving Jacob at daycare and wish I could spend the day with him. I feel like I'm missing out on a lot these days...and while all the little baby milestones are awesome, watching an active toddler discover the world is that much more interesting. There are times that I look at Jacob and almost can't believe I have the power to leave him each day, and I feel bad that I do. But at the same time I tell myself that my working is building a better life for him down the road...allowing us to have a more comfortable house, hopefully do life-enriching things as he gets older, and hopefully save up enough money so he's not starting out his adult life with a mountain of debt. Whether or not that all really outweighs the importance of spending a ton of quality time with him is debatable. But right now it's the only way I see things working. Yet, it doesn't stop me from thinking about it almost all the time these days.
Of course, then we have a night like tonight. I wrote most of this post earlier today, and then tonight Jacob just HAD to have one of those nights. Everything was a chore. Dinner was a battle, playing was interspersed with a ton of whining, and no matter what I wanted to do, Jacob always wanted to do something different. I was actually a little cold by the end of the night, just going through the motions to get him in bed. My hug, kiss, and "I love you" were genuine as I put him down, but I wasn't much in the mood for giggles after all that. And I can only imagine how I'd be after a full day like that. So maybe our current situation is fine. But it's getting to be a lot harder than it used to be.