I’ve had the luxury of taking random days off of work, as my vacation allotment ran from September until this coming April, instead of a full year, as a result of my mat leave timing. There were no family vacations to eat up a chunk of them, no out of town weddings to plan around, and with my parents looking after C, no sick-child days either. Yes, these vacation days still have to cover her doctors’ appointments and the like, but we have a good number of “just because” days.
Without a laundry list of things to do, I wanted these days to be “special”. We had the first day, since Christmas break, this last Friday. For a “special” day, it felt ordinary.
I was fortunate to get 12 months off of work to spend with C after she was born. It’s been four months since I went back. But even after 4 months, from the minute I wake up on days I spend with C at home, I fall back into our old mat-leave routine without a thought. Eat breakfast. Get dressed. Do some cleaning. Run some errands. Home in time for lunch. Nap. Play time. Tidy up. Start supper. If it weren’t for C frantically searching the house for “Dada,” thinking it’s the weekend, or insistently handing me her snow boots, thinking I’ve forgotten to take her to daycare, I might even forget that I’d gone back to work.
But I had gone back to work. After adjusting to seeing her for a short time in the morning, and only a few hours in the evening, a full day with C felt expansive. There was time for a dance party while making the bed. There was no nagging voice in my head as I read my book and snuggled a sleepy baby after her nap. And there was even a moment where I consciously chose not to play with C. Without the feeling of needing to soak up every second of her attention, I had the chance to actually sit and watch her enjoy her little world as she chattered away to her little stuffed friends.
Days like Friday didn’t happen every day when I was home with her. I doubt I was that relaxed and patient for a full day very often at all in that whole year. It was a hard decision to go back to work. Weekends are never long enough, and rarely offer much time for just C and I to spend together. But when we get those chances to spend time together, just the two of us, even the most ordinary day feels magical.