And In The End We All Survived

First of all, thank you so, so, so much for all your kind and compassionate and encouraging comments about my return to work. I read them over and over, and they helped me so much to feel better about it all. I worked from home last Wednesday, Thursday and Friday—the equivalent of inching body-part-by-body-part into the swimming pool, as opposed to just cannonballing in from the diving board; highly recommended if you can swing it—and then today I actually went back to the office for real.

I’d prepared to cry buckets when leaving the house—waterproof mascara lacquered on and everything—but it was actually fine. Totally fine. I fed Hugo, got ready in whatever hope-this-doesn’t-make-me-look-like-I-had-a-baby-six-months-ago clothes I could find, kissed and cuddled him one extra time and then just….left. Just left! Walked out the door with no diaper bag! No stroller! No doubling back because oops, we should probably bring the Ergo or the bottles or the hat or the blanket or the extra socks. It was curiously liberating—and curiously tear-free, mostly because I left Sean and Hugo playing quite happily on the living room floor together, both barely looking up when I distributed my overwrought goodbyes—and even though I had that weird feeling of having forgotten something (the baby! Shit! The baby!) all the way to work, I eventually started to relax a little and spent a very pleasant bus ride intermittently working and reading and being sort of surprised at myself that I wasn't curled up in a fetal position on the back seat. 

And then when I got to the office, my wonderful co-workers welcomed me back so warmly—Champagne! Handmade signs! Hugs! A FANCY FLOWER DELIVERY TO MY DESK—that I didn't even have time to be sad or nostalgic, and then I drank a cup of coffee with no-one trying to reach for it and knock it out of my hands, and then I peed without having to leave the door open and call "Mama's just in here! Don't worry! I'm coming back!", and in the end the day just flew by so quickly that it wasn't the momentous and scary thing I'd been picturing it in my head to be at all, and in fact it just felt like a normal day at the office, rather than one where I needed to cry in the toilets by myself every half hour. So yes, you were all completely right, you who said the imagining of it would be worse than the actual thing—isn't that always the way?—and I'm feeling a lot less sunrise/sunset about the whole thing today, particularly since a) I'll be working from home one day a week, which makes things feel a lot more manageable, b) Sean and Hugo clearly had a blast together today, and c) the pumping rooms at my office turned out to be super fancy, with fridges and sinks and hand sanitizer and bottle brushes and special comfy chairs that have little tables attached so you can....I don't a meal while you're attached to your breast pump? Write a check? Play a game of cards? 

(Ah, work! They're so you can work! With your computer! It's just occured to me!) 

Anyway, I was pleasantly surprised that re-entry wasn't as difficult as I'd thought it would be. I missed my little pickle something rotten, of course, but luckily I have approximately 89634678208 photos and videos of him on my phone (and that's just from this week), so I was never far from his little face. Besides, seeing him again gave me something to look forward to the whole day, and I practically ran the three blocks home from the train (yes, my commute is walk plus train plus bus, which is sort of a nervous-making number of variables to be dealing with) and burst into the front door in anticipation. 

For the record, Hugo just kind of glanced up at me and nodded when I did this, like I was a neighbor he'd seen across the produce aisle at the grocery store. I wanted to shout MILK LADY IS HOME! MILK LADY IS HOME! but I figured hey, okay, we're playing it cool, I see. So I just went with a firm handshake instead.


Quickly, quickly, before I go to bed, can we briefly discuss the fact that my boyfriend Jared Leto won a Golden Globe last night? I found it super heartwarming to come back from putting Hugo down to bed and find several tweets and messages and texts saying JORDAN CATALANO WON AND I THOUGHT OF YOU!, which......maybe means I need to get a new hobby, perhaps? Or he needs to get a restraining order? Either way, I was thrilled he won—weird man up-do and all; as my friend Auburn said "that's how I wore my hair back when it was long"—and am glad those tutoring sessions with Brian Krakow seem to have paid off. (I was, however, a little disappointed to learn that he didn't say "this is for all the Rayannes out there" in his acceptance speech, but rather "this is for all the Rayons out there," Rayon apparently being the character he played in the movie. Super bummer, that. Totally thought he was making a My So-Called Life reference and recalling their night of passion in his car all those years back.) 

Final Jared Leto-related thought, and maybe I need to get professional help for this, but we're all friends so don't judge: whenever I see something on a menu described as "Catalan-style," my brain immediately reads it as "Catalano-style" and I get really excited. What would Catalano-style food be like, do you think? I picture, like, the salted cod wearing a threadbare flannel shirt with a hole in the sleeve. The chicken strumming a guitar and trying to find Tino. All the pastries leaning really, really well. 

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Jan 13, 2014

I laughed possibly too hard at the "play a games of cards" line. I am glad your day went well, I'm your online reader who thought of you, because I've been reading you from the days of you being in SC and well, I thought of you!

I also thought of you when Leto won. I had to explain to the people I was with who this Holly is...


So glad it all worked out well and I am going to keep the imagining is worse than reality in mind for a trip I am dreading this year.

Jan 14, 2014

I'm glad your reentry wasn't nearly as catastrophic as you'd feared! And I'm really, really, really glad that Jordan Catalano is still relevant (well, at least among 30-somethings). ;)

Stephanie D. Adams
Jan 14, 2014

I'm so glad that your first day back wasn't a cry-fest in the bathroom...your line about writing a check while pumping was great. Who even writes checks anymore, let alone does it while pumping? A very funny image : )

Jan 14, 2014

I wanted to lick my screen when Jared Leto was on it. I may have thought too hard about doing so.

Glad your re-entry was painless!

Jan 14, 2014

Catalano-style pastries. Yes, please! :D

Jan 14, 2014

So glad you had a good first day back! I was also surprised at how normal things seemed when I came back. What a relief!

And I also thought of you when Jared Leto won Sunday night :)

Jan 14, 2014

ohmygoodness, I am so jealous of your pumping station. As a teacher I always just had to lock my door and pray that nobody forgot their backpack and had the janitor let them in to get it.

I'm so glad that going back to work was okay. I always feel like I have two identities--maybe not like a superhero, but a little like Mr. Rogers when he comes in, sings a song and switches his sneakers and his cardigan for play clothes.

Jan 14, 2014

He did say Rayon? Now I'm just confused. (I'm the one who tweeted you about synthetic fabrics, BTW.)

Delighted to hear that going back to work went so easily. It's lovely that you can leave him with Sean. And your co-workers sound like the best.

Jan 14, 2014

I was bummed Clare Danes wasn't nominated for "Homeland" this year because I would have loved to have seen an Angela Chase/Jordan Catalano reunion.


I do love a mean-leaning pastry, myself.

Jan 14, 2014

Ah that's great news. Delighted for you and having thoughtful colleagues makes all the difference. So it's onwards and upwards! Hindsight is a wonderful thing isn't it? Nice for your boys to have time together too. All the best, Ruth.

Jan 14, 2014

"salted cod wearing a threadbare flannel shirt with a hole in the sleeve". I'm dying. That is amazing.

I am so glad that going back to work wasn't as bad as you thought. It will be great! Mr. Hugo will be great!

Jan 14, 2014

So glad all went well! Some days will be tougher than others but it all works out.

Edith-Nicole Cameron
Jan 14, 2014

This was one of my favorite posts of yours ever. I'll just stick with that. And - do you think Jared and Claire ever go out to dinner and swap stories about making award-winning work twenty-so-called-years later and reminisce about the good old days?

Jan 14, 2014

^ WHAT JENNETTE (#10) SAID. All the feelings.

Jan 14, 2014

Thank you so much for posting this. I go back to work in three weeks and I'm a tiny bit terrified. This makes me feel like it just might be ok!

Popy K
Jan 15, 2014

Did you hear the horrible rumour that Jared Leto is somehow involved with Taylor Swift? Hopefully the paps just caught them innocently chatting at a post-Globes party because this would be so sad.

Jan 16, 2014

I was reading this post quite happily, thank you very much. Glad your re-entry was without meltdown. And then I got to the last paragraph, and nearly spit my coffee all over the keyboard... hahahAHAHAHHHHH!

Jan 17, 2014

congrats! you are a working mom!

Jan 17, 2014

laughed at "catalano-style" because really, that's perfectly hilarious.

Jan 20, 2014

Yeah, my Kit Cat is nearly 7 months now and I've been back at work for about 3. She's always playing happily at daycare when I collect her and the little brute never cries when I drop her off. Kind of insulting really. ;)

I like the sound of your pumping rooms! At my old job I'd have to go into a unused office and use the nursing cover to sheild myself from the guys in the plant juussssttttt outside the window. The new job is spitting distance from home, so, well, I just go home and let it all hang out.

I'm so very glad it was better than you thought it would be. On to the next thing! Crawling! (aaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhh)

Jan 27, 2014

Oh, Holly! I picked a great time to come back (after baby number three and a cross country move for me!) CONGRATULATIONS!!!! Now to read the archives... :)

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