Today the sun was gleaming and strong and sweat-provoking in the same way as the late July sun: clinging to black tank tops, searing. The weekends are the syrup on the week: I have Corey as my Copilot of The Crazy and he can wrangle one child while I stuff the other one under my shirt, he can point out the scuttling rock crabs while I point my phone at them, collecting shards of late summer for wistful remembrance later.
In the afternoon we dropped Jude and his mini-bike with my Mom, Nolan at his Dad’s, and we took Summer to the gym to sleep/hangout while we garnered a sweat.
I’m employing the slash in the previous sentence because if Summer doesn’t sleep at the gym, she just hangs out there wide-eyed in her car seat, regarding all the maniacs with scab shins and knee socks with a calm tolerance. She watches us grunt and strain and hammer out our bottled angst, for an hour if we want, no problem. Corey and I look at her and we look at each other and we are appalled by the fact that we made a human that is so completely opposite from her older brother. She’s so completely different from us too, with a mellow sweetness that doesn’t match the frenetic stubborn firecracker-ness of all of her immediate family members.
She smiling these days, and making crazily adorable cooing noises, and she is the most laid back human being I have ever encountered. People regard me with concern sometimes, ask about the insanity of three children and whether I feel compelled to toss myself into a meat grinder sometimes but honestly, my 2.5 month old has not in any way made my life more challenging. She sleeps through the night, she naps well, she doesn’t get upset. She has these eyes that know things, but she also possesses a push-button smile that lights up her face with a dwarfish glee and it is so innocent and possibility-filled that it very often makes me want to cry. More so lately. Because here’s the thing: I return to work in three weeks.
I say that, and people look at me, and etched in their frown lines is a mixture of pity and sympathy and next usually comes “Oh wow, so soon?”
It wasn’t all that soon before Summer existed on the outside, I could easily envision going back to work because work is what I do best. It’s what I love. I am a better career woman than I am a Mom, and I actually think that’s saying something because I know I am not a bad Mother. I love to strategize and create and bring in money and summon friends out of prospects who were once annoyed by my persistence. I like to feel I’m contributing to something outside my household and I thrive on conquering goals someone else has set for me, particularly the ones that seem absurd. I’m a nicer woman when I’m learning new things and soaking up brand new technology, sharing it with others. I went back to work a few months after Jude was born and I didn’t have much of a problem with it.
But Summer. Her giant eyes and soft tiny fingers and the way she smiles from the crook of my arm. Her tolerant allowance of Nolan’s constant face in her face, of Jude’s insistence that she have Doggie on her forehead. Her total trust that I will be there, that I’m going nowhere. The fact that she is my last baby, my tiny and unforseen girl. My perfect, perfect girl.
It makes me a bit crazy, the welling over of this guilt, the pervasiveness of the pit in my stomach because Corey went back to work a few days after Summer was born and I know it’s different, he doesn’t have milk and he didn’t brew her in his abdomen etc. but why the hell is it just so easy for him to balance the work and the home? To be our co pilot in the evenings and the weekends and for that to be OK and fine. I want to have his confidence in his priorities and decisions. And I can’t. Because I’m a woman and because that guilt is built in, either way. I know. I know.
It doesn’t make it suck any less.