Today, I take my first hesitant steps back out into the non-mommy world. They are really little steps, because it's only a few hours a week, and it's very short-term. But still.
I. Am. Stressed.
I'm going to complete the lectures for an undergraduate course that I was supposed to begin teaching in January but didn't because I was too overwhelmed and FLIPPED OUT in the first weeks of Baby's life. I was very busy battling hard to ward off the dark, dark spectre of PPD in those days, fighting off the Intrusive Thoughts and the gale of tears that threatened to swamp me every day and just generally struggling to keep tired head above water. Got through it, and life with Baby is now a lot more like steering a rowboat up a pleasant if rocky river than it is like keeping afloat on a stormy sea and that's GREAT but seriously? That's just mommy progress and it isn't gonna help me back at the university facing a swarm of sullen undergraduates with last year's lecture notes clutched in my unmanicured hands. (1)
To be honest, the whole lecturing thing - even though I haven't had a lecture-appropriate thought in god-knows-how-long - doesn't concern me all that much. I'm a good teacher, so far as I can tell from the grainy photocopies of student evaluations that I receive at the end of the school year (thnx professor!!! u r really good! u rock!) (2), and I've been studying this stuff for frickin' long enough so I should be able to draw upon the resources that I've been acquiring over these many, many years. And? I sorta don't care all that much if the little darlings don't receive the best of me because a) I've seen many, many lecturers in my day and many if not most of them suck. Badly. And at risk of sounding stuck-up (tho' I am that), I'm pretty sure that I'd have to work at it to suck as badly. And b) undergraduate students tend to be criminally ungrateful, so WTF should I shred my soul in an unsung effort to enlighten them? And, most pressingly, c) I'm too preoccupied with the fact that I'M ABANDONING THE BABY.
I'm leaving her in very good, experienced sister-in-law hands, and only for a few hours, and she's going to love it because my god there will be cooing! Kisses! Non-stop holding! But still. Leaving the baby.
Mommy's heart flutters. She didn't think it would, she thought that she'd love this moment, she thought that the heart would race from the exhilaration of freedom. But she doesn't, and it doesn't, and the heart, instead, it flutters, and there is much wringing of the hands and she hopes that Baby knows that no matter how much Mommy pursues/clings to non-mommy things, her mommyness has become and will remain the most important thing she ever is or does.
I'm supposed to just walk away from Those Eyes?
1) University students in their late teens/early twenties are, with some very important exceptions, a singularly grubby and ungrateful lot, and so it is that I can't really view this as labour of love, as did Jezer with her charming Grade-Fours. It's an effort by me to hang on to part of my non-mommy/pre-mommy self, and to keep alive the hope that I will, one day, return to academic life, none-diminished by overwhelming obsessions with swaddling and fantasy nursery governments.
2) I'm not a professor; I'm an 'Instructor.' They don't give you tenure-track jobs until you finish off those last chapters of that little thing called a dissertation.