"How was the first week at the new job?"
Fine. Great. I have a new desk, a brand-new chair, and my boss is springing for a computer cart so I can have my keyboard and mouse in an ergonomically proper position. I have my own office, for the first time in my life. Flat panel display. There are two part-time administrative assistants - I can ask someone else to make copies or stamp my mail. It's crazy.
My office is right in the heart of Seattle Center. I can walk to the Space Needle. I have fantastic coffee shops and restaurants within walking distance, and my window looks out onto the monorail track.
Today is Sunday. I was putting away laundry in the room we once called Oliver's bedroom, that now is just "that room." Or "the back bedroom." It's essentially a storage area where we have our clothes, a futon, and lots of odds and ends and things that we can't put anywhere else. Like scrapbooks. And the memory box, that has clothes and hats and things from Oliver's earliest days. We had pulled them out yesterday, and I think something was triggered when I saw his little tiny "Born at Swedish" hat, the first outfit he wore home from the hospital. The little black onesie with "Daddy" emblazoned on it in mock-tattoo lettering.
Anyway, I went back to hang up a shirt, and I just stopped. I sat down on the futon, looking at the parenting books on the shelf and the bibs that he no longer wears. He used to wear these little cloth bibs when I gave him bottles, but he doesn't use them anymore because he doesn't get bottles anymore, because I'm no longer home with him. They are artifacts. Memories.
I sat down with his little puppy-dog bib. I picked up The Expectant Father, the book I used to prepare for life with a baby. I leafed to the last chapter, the one we read just before we drove to Swedish Hospital. The last chapter I read before I made the jump from "expectant father" to "new father." And then my eyes filled up with tears.
I don't know what happened. It just erupted. I sobbed and sobbed, and I thought ludicrously, "Oh, I must just be depressed. Probably doesn't have anything to do with being away from Oliver." As I sat next to the box of outgrown memories. With "The Expectant Father" in my hands. With an outgrown puppy-dog bib on my knee. This has nothing to do with missing Oliver.
It's good working again. It's a good feeling earning a paycheck (although I know I was working the whole time I was home with him.) It's good talking to adults again. It's very good working with this organization, which does good and critical work and makes me proud.
But the heartache just snuck up and waylaid me. Mrs. B comforted me through another sobfest, but she did let me know that the pain never really goes away. He's going to get older and have adventures with his mother (not me) for a few weeks. When she goes back to work, he'll spend three days with the daycare, having adventures without either of us.
But we're doing the best we can. Mrs. B is going down to four days a week, so she'll spend Mondays with him. One of the best perks of this job is that I work four days a week - long days, but I get the reward of a three-day weekend. So he'll spend Mondays with mommy, Fridays with me, and only three days a week in daycare. It's a good situation. My work days will be long, but it's worth it to spend an entire day with my little boy, just the two of us. It'll help. It's the best we can do.
(I think I've said that once before.)