The first week back at work

On Monday, Alex went back to work for the first time since August 2007, which is when she went on maternity leave. Then we moved to Costa Rica and back, and had a second child. During that entire time, Alex stayed at home, her job being a Mom.

Even before we moved back to Canada (Alex knowing she was pregnant), she had started to plan her return to work. She wanted to do her job again, not just because it’s something she’d spent many years training for, and not just because it helps the family income-wise. It’s also a value aspect — anyone who’s had a job feels a certain amount of ownership and responsibility about what they do.

And besides, it gives her a chance to get away from the kids…

(Okay, I jest on that last one. Well, a bit — there is some truth to it. But it was a major consideration, too — what do we do with the kids? They had to go into daycare if this was going to work.)

Today, Alex completed her first week of paid, non-mom/non-house work in almost four years. This was a week that I was actually dreading for quite some time; I feared the chaos. Monkey has become quite the handful at times (especially with Alex and I), and Choo Choo’s now walking and in a very clingy stage where she refuses to let go.

Frankly, I expected this week to be abject hell. I expected that we’d have to order dinner almost every night, the kids would be confused as hell and downright unmanageable, that there’d be tonnes of stress, and I’d be wanting to sleep at the office. That’s what I expected.

Plan for the worst, hope for the best. Kicker is, I forgot to actually hope — I just planned, but not remotely as well as Alex did. She planned our meals, made sure dinners were made in advance, arranged for the daycare for the kids (I dropped off in the morning, she picked up in the afternoon; Alex’s mom will come on Fridays), and so forth. I probably worried more about myself than anything else; Alex had handled it all.

So here we are, end of that first epic week, and Alex was happy each and every day. No missed buses, no late starts, no tears except for when I handed Choo Choo over to the daycare (on her first day, there was an intense grabbing combined with something that sounded like JEZZUSCHRIPESDADWHATTHEHELLAREYOUDOING?! and a small river of cascading down her pudgy face. Monkey, on the other hand, disappeared almost instantly. I only knew she was in the daycare because I heard: “I found a doll!”

Alex, to her vast credit, made it look almost effortless, like it was a recipe she’d made dozens of time and rolled it out with no more effort than scrambling an egg. For someone who hadn’t turned an hour in a few years, it looked beyond old hat.

If nothing else, it’s a chance to remember that no matter how well you think you know someone, they can still surprise you. I’m proud of you hon, you continue to amaze me.