[Humuhumu in her lime-green bumbo, wearing a white onesie adorned with lions, zebras and giraffes.]
So, I've had...a week. It's been a tumultuous experience. The hormones are subsiding. My hair has finally started to fall out. I lost none for almost six months and I was worried that my head was going to develop its own microclimate due to the size of my 'do, so this is a good thing. This relatively minor positive is offset by the rather large negative effect, which is that the mellowness conferred by my body forcing me into the immediacy of baby needs has also subsided. I'm aware of the passage of time again, and with that awareness comes the knowledge that I'm now over halfway through my maternity leave.
Humuhumu is becoming more physically independent. She can hold her head up and control her arms and legs. She is also awake for longer periods of time, during which her need for attention is no longer solely driven by the state of her stomach. It's difficult trying to figure out what will entertain her, and when I do discover something I find I have to do the same thing (crinkle a toy, make a whooshing noise, show her a picture a book) fifty times. Frankly, it's boring. A part of me looks forward to paying somebody else to do this. I fear mental atrophy.
Another part of me feels tremendously guilty about returning to work. We paid a visit to Humuhumu's nursery last week. It looks pretty fantastic. The staff and the children come from a variety of racial & ethnic backgrounds (important to me). They're tremendously accommodating - willing to help with weaning, to use cloth nappies and to set up a series of introductory visits in March & April before she starts in May. Humuhumu herself loved the visit, goggling at everyone. And yet it did nothing to assuage my unease. It's as if Dirk Gently's fridge has taken up residence in my head. I don't want to open the door for fear of being hit full in the face by a newborn guilt god.
There is no rational basis for this guilt. It will be good for Humuhumu to be with other children, so she doesn't grow up thinking herself the centre of the universe. She loves watching older children and learning from them. The nursery staff are trained and paid to help small children develop, and they can do it better than I can. Still, I feel trapped. If I didn't return to work, I would do myself a huge disservice. Because I am returning to work, I fear doing the same to Humuhumu.
I welcome suggestions for comfort reading for women who decide not to be full-time mums and still manage to raise healthy, happy children. I desire validation for my life choices.