Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Back to work

High ho, high ho, it's back to work I go... or, have been for almost three months now!
So what is it like being back at work with a little baby waiting at daycare to be picked up?
well, I sure am at the right company and department. My direct boss has a baby of Ray's exact age. And our section manager is a working mother with a girl in kindergarten.  Also our company policy allows people with small children to leave at 4:30!
... well I think this is mostly only for mothers. Technically guys are allowed to take it but it's one of those 'just not done' things.
So now I am about an hour away from Ray's daycare and pick him up at 5:30. I am torn, do I like being that far away? it is very far. But I get to sit on the way back. And it's the only time of day that is truly 'my time'. I finally finished reading book 5 of Game of thrones!

So how do I do it? well, we bought a dishwasher for one thing. Another thing, I was assigned a laptop to work a bit after ray goes to bed.
note: this doesn't always work... anyways here are some pictures for your slice-of-life entertainment.

dude is building towers now.
he loves the bike. really. it's the helmet he doesn't fancy.

outside the office

Sometimes I give myself culture shock by hanging out
with coworkers doing non-baby related activities.
 Here we are, betting on the ponies.

On a kind of different note, on the theme of going back to work after having a kid, I was planning on writing a long post about my ideas of how being a working woman thing are sort of different from reality. 
I grew up believing in total total equality of the sexes, probably because I kind of wanted to be a boy growing up. So when I finally accepted the soul crushing truth that I was, in fact, a girl, I sort of developed a coping mechanism : namely, rejecting any ideas that girls were in fact different from boys in any fundemental way. I relished breaking stereotypes. I secretly loved being the only girl in my graduating class of computer science, because I was proving that I could do it, there is really nothing to stop you, just a matter of willpower and getting along with your stinky nerdy classmates. ;D okay they weren't even *that* stinky.
I sort of viewed children as many young adults do: a black hole where your free time, hobbies, love life, and career aspirations go to die. 
This view is both slightly true (free time?! what is that??) and also really not fair. For one thing, hobbies are a way to occupy your time and make you happy, working on something enjoyable to you.  I would like to state for the record, bringing up kids (or at least my one particular baby) is immensely enjoyable.  You get your happiness quota filled up. I feel a twinge of longing to play that video game that has been resting on top of the PS3 for half a year now, yes you, 'The Last of Us'... but then it's time to take Ray on a walk and OH GOD an enormous shiny green beetle crawled on his arm and he was scared but then I held it and he poked it and it flew away, then he laughed and babbled happily and ... (heart) uh, what was I saying? 

   Oh yeah. Differences of the sexes. 
So I guess the other shoe kind of dropped when I got pregnant. 
 This is a huge area they don't really mention in the whole 'gender equality' thing. It is just you, Ms. career lady woman female, who gets pregnant, and it is really not fair... but not in a mean way. It is just, well, not equal, and it is just the way it is.
Also, even after you are done with the whole shrinking not enough room for eternal organs and being slightly terrified about what's waiting for you in the birthing room thing , but when the baby actually comes out, even with your partner's best efforts to share duties, you realize that the good lord above has given you (and only you) these amazing chestular weapons in the battle against sleep deprivation. I mean, have you seen how drunk and sleepy babies get after nursing? Adorable. So hubby goes back to sleep and leaves you to fight the good fight, for oh, about eight months or so. 
 (insert boob pun here).

I really enjoyed staying home with Ray for a year, and I'm so so so glad I am living in a country that gives mothers the opportunity to do that and not fear going bankrupt or losing their job (legally speaking, although in practice some companies don't welcome women back to the workplace, which is thankfully not what I experienced at Rakuten.)
And now that I have been on the other side of the fence of working vs staying at home with the kids, I can say for a fact that staying at home is way way tougher, because there are no tasks you can check off a list and point to and have someone say 'good job'.  But, on the other hand,  it is also so rewarding to see your little floppy baby grow into an independent human being before your eyes. 

Unfortunately raising a child is so hard work and so necessary for the human race, it does not leave any mark on the world to say 'I was here'. I mean, a person is their own being, and no matter how well they were raised or accomplished they grow up to be, the parents aren't given any trophies or marks in the history books.
Which is why I wanted to get around to my meandering point. Staying at home as a parent is wonderful and rewarding and tough work, but it's no place to spend your whole life if you're the ambitious sort. You can get trapped there. If I didn't go back to work, I would still be happy. But there is something bigger out there for me to put my name on, if I keep my head up and don't  sucked into that aforementioned black hole of laundry and diaper changes and nursery rhymes ;)

On that note, here is one of Ray's favorite songs on YouTube, Sesame Street featuring Bruno Mars with "Don't Give Up"! 

Enjoy kiddos. For now, Little Gaijin Over and Out!