For the vast majority of the year, my job is super flexible. I work from home often. If I need to take an afternoon off to take Owen to the doctor (which, as you know, happens all the time) I can easily adjust my schedule to accommodate it. My commute is easy, even from our new place in the ‘burbs. My manager is wonderful, and totally understanding about the fact that life comes before work. But every few weeks I run an in-person training program (for several days or up to 2 weeks) that requires me to be in early to set up before people arrive, attend dinners and other evening events, and then stay late to be the one signing the check. Though they are generally in Boston, sometimes they are held in other states and once in awhile even other countries (hence getting stuck in Munich last year while very pregnant). The days are long, and when I am the one in charge, there is not a lot of room for flexibility. Thankfully I also love this part of my job.
The good news is that these dates are planned far in advance, so Benjamin is able to block the days off in his calendar and we can be prepared for them. The bad news is that they still, inevitably, fall at inopportune times.
Last week and this week is one of those times.
This week a dear friend of my family’s died and I am missing her funeral. I just couldn’t figure out how to make the travel work, so I won’t be there to be with my father as he mourns the loss of his best friend. Last week Owen’s daycare was closed for a week and Benjamin was (and still is) working on a huge project for work, so we were like ships passing in the night to make sure Owen was cared for. We had a babysitter come for a few days and Owen had one person putting him down for a nap and woke up to someone else. He was given bottles in different laps every day and although we generally stuck to his schedule, things were far from normal.
I missed two bedtimes in a row already, and I’m missing tonight’s bedtime as well.
Even though it’s a short term situation, it breaks my heart.
And even though Owen is remarkably flexible and easygoing, I think it’s taking a toll on him as well. Yesterday both of his daytime naps were 30 – 45 minutes, when usually they are reliably 1.5 – 2 hours. He went down to sleep fine for Benjamin at bedtime, but woke at 4:30am this morning crying. Since he almost never does this anymore, I don’t really let him cry much, since it almost always means something is wrong (he’s wet or his teeth hurt or he threw lovey overboard). I went in to see him and you should have see how big his teary eyes got in the dark room when he saw my face. He beamed at me and cooed and patted my cheeks and touched my curls. He gazed into my eyes by the soft light of his nightlight and let his eyelids droop in my arms. It was just about the sweetest thing ever. He hadn’t seen me since yesterday morning, and I wonder if he woke up to see if I would be there. I’m so glad I was.
Benjamin thinks I’m crazy for thinking that it has to do with me, but my theory is that since I’ve been coming home while he’s been asleep, that he might think if he wakes up, I’ll be there. So he’s waking up early, hoping I’ll be there. Didn’t work out so well for naptimes, since I was still at work, but it had the intended effect at night. Who knows if he is actually capable of thinking like that, but I’m going to stick with this theory that he misses me :)
Needless to say, he didn’t go back to sleep at all this morning, so we’ve all been up since 4:30am. I should have just slept on his floor or something. I can’t blame him for wanting to see me — I wanted to see him! I secretly loved rocking him in the quiet of his nursery this morning. I missed him like crazy. But I don’t want to reward the crying at night so that it becomes a habit.
Thankfully after tomorrow night, I’ll still be working like a madwoman at work during the day, but I should be able to be home by his bedtime. Hopefully he will realize I’m here to stay and will go back to napping regularly and sleeping quietly until a reasonable hour.
Have you had to leave your baby for an “extended” period of time (believe me, I know a few days/bedtimes is not really an extended period of time… but it is for me!)? Did it upset his/her sleep? Is there anything I can do to help him know I’ll be back later? I already wave bye bye and kiss him like I do when I drop him off at daycare, I just think it’s hard for him to figure out when I’m going to come home since it has been so erratic.