Fall semester starts two weeks from tomorrow, and y’all, I AM READY. I’ll be back in the classroom full time, which, this year will mean teaching three classes and doing some service/leadership/mentoring work in lieu of my usual fourth class. It will put me on campus all day Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, and I’ll probably spend part of the day on campus Tuesdays and Thursdays for meetings or the aforementioned mentoring work, and (hopefully!) part of the day at home.
I’ve technically been working since May, but, in comparison, this summer I’ve been teaching only one class, an online class, and have spent zero time in the classroom. I come to campus Mondays and Thursdays to work, but I am mostly spending this time alone in my office. I haven’t talked to a lot of people in person and haven’t needed to dress up. I’ve had the time to fit in trips to the gym or to the nail salon while I’ve been “working.” It’s been work-lite, with 75% fewer calories, if you know what I mean. I have really appreciated it.
I am not cut out to be a stay-at-home or work-from-home mom full time, I can now say for sure. I was at home full time for the first 6+ months of the twins’ lives, and I am so grateful I had that opportunity. I wouldn’t trade it. But it was also really, really hard. The first couple of months were hard, especially — the long nursing-feeding-pumping routine that took place every two hours, feeling trapped not only at home but specifically in the bedroom (where my ass wore a groove in one side of the mattress because I never got to get up), and all the challenges of caring for two babies while being only one person — it all took 100% of myself. I loved it, but it was not easy.
Being at home with them full time now would, of course, be different. They’re in a different stage — they eat and nap at predictable times; we can go out without it being too big a hassle; they’re more active and interactive. In a lot of ways, it’s much easier (no more endless nurse-feed-pump grind, for example). On the other hand, it still takes 100% of myself. Mobile babies, y’all. Two of them. Today they shut me out of the nursery — I was using the bathroom next door and had left them playing. Then, I heard the door slam. When I tried to get back in, L was leaning up against the door from the inside. I could swear I heard them laughing.
Monday mornings are always a little rough, as Monday mornings often can be when you’re faced with re-entering your workday routine after having put it on the shelf for the past couple of days, but Monday mornings now also come with a little breath of relief. When I arrive on campus, I stop at Starbucks on my way to my desk and pick up a giant iced coffee and then when I get to my office I close the door and sit down in the quiet and drink my coffee while handling emails from the weekend and planning my day. It’s quiet. There is coffee. I can drink the coffee while it’s still at its intended temperature.
I assume the transition back to working full time will be rough. I’ll lose the less-structured time at the office that I’ve recently been enjoying. It won’t be as easy to fit in trips to the gym, for example. At least three days a week, I won’t see E&L until dinner time, at which point I’ll only have a couple of hours with them before they’re in bed. I know that’s going to be hard and I’ll miss them. I’ll also have plenty of exhausting days at work — time in the classroom and/or in meetings will do that — and when I get home from work, I won’t be able to zone out on the couch, because there will be two babies there who need me and a tired husband who will need a break after spending the last 10 hours caring for them. (He’s taking his parental leave during fall semester and will be at home with them while I’m at work.) It won’t be easy, I know. It will take 100% of myself, too.
If all goes well back in the classroom, however, I can only assume that no one will scream at me, vomit on me, or defecate directly into my hand. Even better, I will not have to try so hard to put anyone to sleep at nap time — in my classes, it just happens naturally!
*Britney Spears, obvs