I've been back to work for over a month now. This is my sixth week, in fact. Now that I've settled into a bit more of a groove and some of the newness has worn off, I think I've got some clearer perspective on how things are going. At this point, I can say, "So far, so good."
The work is coming along slowly but surely. I'm still in learning mode in a lot of ways, so if I'm not watching someone to learn something, odds are I don't have a lot to do. However, I have done a couple practice runs on the big part of my job, I got good reviews on an appeal letter that I wrote, and I'm working on a couple other projects in the meantime. I wish I was a little busier, but I know this is a process and at least they're happy with me at this point. In the long run I really do think I will enjoy the job, so that is a nice feeling in the midst of moments of boredom.
So many parts of this transition back into working life have been better than expected. One thing that has helped that is that this job has better flexibility than my old job. Don't get me wrong, my old boss gave me a lot of freedom and was very accommodating with time off and things like that. However, this job doesn't track time the same way so I feel a lot less tense about my time. I don't freak out if I'm five minutes late. I don't have to worry about making up an extra half hour each week so I can have an hour lunch out with friends. I have an hour every day for lunch, in fact. I didn't have to make up the hour from when I left early on Friday. I'm not going to take advantage of that, clearly, but it's just nice to not be all crazy about my time. I also like that's it's easier to switch back and forth between projects because I don't have to track my time in 15-minute increments. Oh, and because I have an hour for lunch, I'm okay taking my lunch at noon instead of 1pm like I used to (I used to feel like my afternoon was so long otherwise). And, strange enough, I've found that it usually makes the day go quicker. It's easy to get to lunch and I'm not obsessing over being hungry for so long, and I can usually get lost in a project or break up the afternoon with a snack. Who knew?
One of my challenges right now is feeling out the office a bit more. With summer approaching I want to start thinking about vacation. However, June is the end of our fiscal year and I know things can get pretty hectic after that with planning. But with a kid in school and a husband whose convenient vacation time is limited, I'm not sure how the two schedules are going to mesh. Part of me wants to get time off in before I do take on consistent work, but I don't want to look like a slacker or accidentally ask to take time off at a terrible time. So, just feeling that out is challenging right now. My other big challenge is that my house is back to the disaster it used to be. I enjoyed the order while I was off, but that is officially gone. Everything needs vacuuming and dusting, the piles of papers are getting larger, and there are so many tasks I ignore in the evenings because I just...can't. I hoped my enjoyment of the order would encourage me to make the effort to keep it up, but now not only don't I have the energy, but I'm also acutely aware of how things once were. Boo. The overarching problem here is that I'm playing catch-up in the evenings and I stay up much later than I should so I'm not as well rested as I should be. I have even less energy in the evenings and things just get worse. It's a vicious circle.
Still, it's so nice to have a larger sense of purpose again. Being a mom and a housewife was truly awesome and fulfilling in its own way. I am so grateful for the three months I had off. It was an amazing blessing I never expected. But it's been nice to have a new place to go, to have a new team to be part of, and to dress up and be pretty every day. I never realized how dressing in jeans every day (as much as I love them and always felt fine) takes away a little bit of femininity and grown-up-ness that I didn't realize I was missing. It's just nice to work on something new and different and rediscover old talents. Overall the transition has been a pleasant one.
In the meantime, we're only six weeks away from the end of the school year. In some respects things get easier. The kids both go to one place, lunch packing continues for Jacob but gets a little simpler, and I trust the environment at daycare far more than I do at school, at least as far as how he behaves, who's taking care of him, and who he's hanging out with. But some things get harder. Keeping him engaged is very difficult without nightly reading assignments and weekly homework. We have to step it up there, for sure. The biggest downside, though, is probably the end of his time with this year's teacher. She has been wonderful. After last year, where all his teacher did was complain about him, this year his teacher has embraced him and has found a way to engage him despite his tendency to get distracted or focus on his own priorities.
Sometimes I'm hesitant to hop on the "Teacher Appreciation Week" bandwagon. I mean, at daycare we do a nice week of food treats for the whole staff and everyone brings in a couple items, and that's fine. But with school teachers I stress enough at Christmas trying to think of a gift, and some of them make more money than me anyway, so pardon me for not being dead set on giving them yet another gift. But this year, as I reflected on the relative ease with which we've gone through the year, I decided to buy Jacob's teacher a little gift--a $15 iTunes gift card--and write a little note, as I've heard that teachers appreciate the sentiments as much as anything. She's a runner so I thought she might enjoy some new music on her playlist. She loved it and we've had a nice little exchange via email over the last couple days. She actually said in her one email, "I really enjoy his energy!" Gosh, I wish I could say that more often. Admittedly, I've come to appreciate his passion and quirkiness much more in the past few months than I did for a long time, but his "energy" can be a huge challenge. I can't say enough how much I love that she appreciates it and finds ways to work with it. I said to her in one of my emails that I'd like to clone her for next year, and she responded that she's already thinking about him for next year, trying to think of a teacher that would be a good fit for him. I can't even tell you how nice it is to know that someone is in his corner.
As a whole we're still having trouble getting Jacob to listen, particularly the first time we ask him to do something. I kid you not, every morning when I ask him to brush his teeth (and yes, I have to ask him, because most of the time he's got a lot of other stuff on his priority list ahead of that!), I get a serious groan and mini-tantrum. Same thing happens at bedtime, almost without fail. He just wants to do his own thing, end of story, and doesn't think we should have the right to derail that plan. Trust me, it's not for lack of trying or lack of exerting our authority over him. We don't let him "get away" with stuff. He just doesn't understand that this is an ongoing trend that we always have that right. He's lost his iPad more days than I can count lately, but I hesitate to send it back with my parents (from whence it came) because the daily threat of losing it is one of the few things that gives him pause. Sigh. So many of his behaviors are night-and-day better than they were a year ago, but we still have a daily battle on our hands trying to teach him responsibility and proper priorities. I know he's at an age where he should be getting some specific chores, but I can't bear right now to have yet another thing to nag him about and argue about, when it seems like 90% of our interactions revolve around things like that already. And if it's not something I'm prepared to stick with, I'm not going to do it just yet.
As for Carter, he is definitely cute and definitely TWO. He is constantly hilarious and says the cutest things. Just his random two or three-word observations of the world are so sweet. The one day I asked him if he was happy, I think because he either seemed tired or was acting grumpy. And after continuing the act for a while, he eventually smiled and said, "I happy, mama." Melt. Tonight I accidentally poked him in the face/eye with my thumb (and nail--ouch). He cried and I freaked out a little. I apologized and hugged him repeatedly, and as I set him on his changing table, he started saying sorry to me! I think he may have been worried about how sad I was! And then he was like, "I better, mama." Such a sweet kid.
He still loves cars and trucks and buses, and is still obsessed with his brother. They interact a lot now, though I just wish it wasn't so often with them ratcheting each other up rather than just enjoying each other's company. Boys will be boys, I guess. But he's at such a sweet age and he is such a sweet boy. He loves giving hugs and is so happy to see you. In the morning when I'm getting him ready, he always says, "Hi mama!", like he's just so happy to have me there! My favorite thing to hear is, "Hug!" because I know a sweet hug is in my future!
Of course, he's still two, and his tantrums can be epic. He wrestles me on the changing table at bedtime every night when we first start to get ready, though once we're into the routine he's usually perfectly lovely. He absolutely hates coming in from outside. If he can't have something he wants (which, honestly, isn't that often) he will pitch a bit of a fit. He's got a mind of his own and is tough to dissuade. He's definitely in the midst of the terrible twos, but most of the time they're just not that terrible. He's shockingly easy compared to what I remember with Jacob, but then again, my parenting skin is ridiculously thicker than when Jacob was two. Carter is just so easygoing compared to Jacob, and I am so thankful every day when we have one sweet interaction after another.
Finally, Craig is still busy. He's got anywhere from two to five weeks left of his season. After that he should have a little time to chill, but he's working with Team Canada for the World Championships in September, so it won't be all fun and games over the next few months. Still, we're excited for weekends with him home, for sure! Just amazing to think that eight years ago right now we were celebrating our first professional championship with the Knighthawks in Phoenix. Time flies, no doubt.
So, things are good. They're busy and still getting settled, but we're getting through! Yay!