I mentioned that while on maternity leave I haven’t been counting. I’ve instead been living in the Zone of Timelessness and soaking up the fact that the main responsibility I had for 11 months was to be with my daughter.
But now it’s over. This week I return to work.
And honestly, I’m okay.
The irony is that one of the reasons I’m okay is because of counting. 216.
Over those 11 months, I got to celebrate each and every milestone that, as adults, we take for granted – rolling over, learning to sit, becoming mobile. To think that there was someone there with me before I could do those things, who cheered and, perhaps, welled up when they saw me smile, laugh, or speak for the first time. Think about that: there was someone cheering for you because you sat, because you spoke.
In the ZOT, it was I who got to spend all of my time bonding with my daughter, cuddling her, kissing her when she was sad or injured, teaching The Duchess how to have fun. She now initiates peek-a-boo with The Big Brown One. She is full of fun. 216.
While I was in the ZOT, I got to breastfeed her, to wean her, to make each one of her meals. I hate thinking about meals, but you know that. Still, I got to provide her with the nutrition she needed to survive, to thrive, to grow into those rounded features she has.
And I will continue to do those things, I just won’t be there for every single bit of it – the one thing that tears at my heart – but I know she’ll be okay because I will spend every day of my life making sure that she knows that I am cheering her on, I am celebrating her, I am here to hug her when she is sad and in pain, I am here to pick her up when she falls, I am here to love her.
But there are people who don’t know that they are loved. There are people who don’t feel that there is anyone who cares about them. There are people who have no one to pick them up. I have met them. They are kids – most are under 21. 2.1.6.
Often mistakes have been made. Some small. Some serious. Sometimes it’s their mistake. Sometimes it’s the mistake of the person who was supposed to care most. Those mistakes damage relationships and these “kids” end up with no one cheering for them, no one there to pick them up when they fall, no one to show them that they are still loved.
Except there are. It’s just not who they’d expect. They are strangers.
Going back to work is easier because last year 48 young people weren’t homeless for 216 nights because of strangers. Strangers with whom I get the pleasure to work. It’s easier to go back because a part of my job is to recruit these extradordinary, altruistic volunteers – volunteers who willingly let a homeless young person stay in their home, one night at a time until we can find them a more permanent housing solution. Volunteers who, through what they offer, show these kids that someone will be there to cheer for them, someone will be there to pick them up when they fall, someone will be there to meet their needs, and someone will be there to care.
I will fight my whole life to show my daughter I love her no matter who she is or what she does. But professionally, voluntarily , I hope that I will fight my whole life to do what these volunteers do for some of the most vulnerable people in our society, too.
How did/do you feel about returning to work?
Does the job make a difference?