His shirt says heartbreaker and he is. He has big blue eyes and a plucky grin and just a hint of a dimple in each of his big round cheeks. He is growing so quickly.
Before Grady was born, I couldn't imagine wanting to stay home with a baby. My job was a huge part of my identity and I couldn't imagine giving it up. Now I'm trying to figure out how to do just that. How can I afford to give up my (stressful albeit) high-paying job? We live in a city where you can't buy a house for less than half a million dollars. We have a mortgage and bills and life is expensive.
I'm lucky. I know I am. I'm not going to complain about my job situation. I'm lucky to have my job. I'm lucky to live in Canada where 52 weeks of maternity / parental leave is the norm. I'm lucky that Canada allows either the mother or the mother's partner to take parental leave. I'm lucky to have a spouse who is as invested in raising our child as I am.
But it's hard. Two days a week I drag my tired ass out of bed (Sir is teething. There is no sleep.) and I try to nurse my sleeping baby without waking him. I kiss the top of his head and I leave him snuggled up and cozy in bed. I spend 20 minutes pumping breastmilk in the office bathroom, three times a day (breastmilk that my child refuses to drink out of a bottle or cup. Breastmilk that would be going to waste if I wasn't lucky enough to live in a city with a breastmilk bank.) Shawn drives Grady to my office (30 minutes each way) at lunch so I can give him a nice long feed. I endure snarky comments about spoiling my baby, judgments from non-parents and parents alike, and offensive remarks like the one about my son growing up with a breast fetish because I don't force him to drink from a bottle.
The other three days a week are difficult in their own way but are made much more easy because of my close proximity to sir. I sit on the floor of the nursery with my laptop on the floor beside the activity centre. I try to schedule my phone calls around Grady's nap so I don't have a giggly baby in one ear and a phone stuck to the other ear.
This two days in the office and three days at home work schedule is working. It's hard at times but Shawn and I are committed to making it work. We've almost worked out the kinks, just in time for everything to change again. We have four more weeks of this - tops - before I have to make a serious decision about being back in the office full-time or officially cutting back to part-time work (and a part-time salary.)
Shawn is currently on parental leave. Now, please believe me when I say I'm not complaining about Canada's maternity / parental leave system. I know that we're lucky. But our system doesn't allow for him to work part-time while on leave. Or rather, it does allow for him to work but whatever he earns is deducted from his benefits dollar for dollar. The way the system is set up discourages people from working part-time while on leave. I'm making a basic statement on what is a complicated situation but that's essentially what it boils down to. If I reduce my hours (and pay) to part-time, Shawn cannot work part-time while receiving benefits. Our benefits expire at the end of June. It doesn't make sense to forfeit those benefits (another quirk of our system is that all maternity / parental benefits must be claimed before the child's first birthday.)
So we're trying to come up with a plan.
On paper it seems logical for me to go back to work full-time. I have a higher salary than Shawn and my job is much more secure than his. But logic isn't dictating this decision. Logic flies out the window when I think of spending ten hours a day, five days a week away from this face:
We're trying. We're fumbling our way through, trying to decide what's best for our little family. We just want to be happy but somewhere along the way things have become very complicated.