This post also appeared on www.capecodonline.com/blogs in the opinion section of the Cape Cod Times, a division of Ottaway Newspapers, Inc.
If I’ve been dreading tomorrow for weeks, then MJ has been downright fearing this ever since Will was born.
Yup, MJ goes back to work tomorrow and she’s none too pleased about it. She’s been tearful and anxious about this for weeks and I’m guessing tomorrow is going to be a very rough day in the Gouveia household. But to really grasp the significance of this, you’d need to know a little bit more about Pre-Baby MJ, or PBMJ as I like to call her.
PBMJ was a cold, calculating, no holds barred businesswoman who not only excelled at her job, she truly loved it. She used to be a work machine and she would’ve stayed there all day everyday if she could’ve. Work fulfilled her in a way that nothing else did. She poured herself into it, especially when other things in her life weren’t going well. In fact, when we first started dating my main concern was that she didn’t have time for me in her life. And that wasn’t a guess on my part, that was her telling me point blank that I came second to her job. MJ is a lot of things, but subtle and tactful are not among them.
When MJ was pregnant her goal was to be in her office, still working, when she finally went into labor. And if it wasn’t for the doctor’s strict orders, she would’ve been. But even with the doctor’s orders, she worked up to less than a week before she delivered Will. And the whole time she was adamant that she wanted to get back to work as soon as possible. After all, staying home with a baby was just a necessary evil until her maternity leave was over and she could get back to what she loved most. “I’ll never want to stop working,” was the exact phrase she once said to me.
Well, to say her tune has now changed would be an understatement. Now she’s borderline panicked about going back to work and it’s going to be heart-wrenching for her to have to leave Will with our cousin tomorrow. A few weeks ago, she sheepishly said “I don’t want to go back to work. Ever.” It’s amazing what three months will do huh?
And I feel for her, I really do. Sure I was bummed leaving Will to go back to work but let’s face it: mothers have a stronger bond with an infant than fathers can ever hope to have. She breastfed him and sustained him for the last three months. She was home with him all those hours when I was at work. She got to learn his facial expressions and knows exactly which cries mean what. There’s no one else on Earth who can take care of Will like MJ does, and she knows it. But now she has to partially remove herself from that role and trust somebody else to do it when she’s not around. And that’s gotta be tough.
I know there’s not much I can do to make her feel better, but I’m going to have the dishes washed, I’ll try to make dinner and maybe even fold some of the laundry. What I really wish is that I made enough money for her to be a stay at home mom. But that’ll never be the case as long as I’m a journalist. She makes all the money in the relationship and we’re on her insurance as well, so she pretty much has to go back to work. It breaks my heart (not to mention my masculinity) that I can’t provide everything she needs, but that’s life I guess.
The silver lining is that we’re lucking out big time with family members willing to help us out. MJ’s cousin Shelby is a sweetheart and she’s spending some of her summer helping to watch Will. And my Aunt Val is driving all the way from Norton (about 45 minutes each way) twice a week this summer, which means we won’t have to put Will in daycare until September when he’s almost six months old. We have some great family and they’ll never know how grateful we are that they’re doing this.
I just hope MJ makes it to work tomorrow without having a breakdown.