After the birth of Connor, Kennith skipped back to work and I was left holding the baby – literally. I found it all very hard. I felt like a fish out of water and had no idea how to handle things. The days really seemed to stretch in front of me. Before we had Connor, Kennith and I were both workaholics, and would often be at work until 7 most nights. It was not uncommon for us to remain until 9pm while we worked on a deadline.
I was in print while Kennith was in retail, and we both really enjoyed what we did and felt really committed to our jobs and our employers. About 4 months before I was due with Connor, the company I was with was barely staying afloat, and I opted to take voluntary retrenchment – the alternative was to remain on less pay with more than twice the amount of work. This probably would be fine, if I did not hate what I was doing every day.
It was not a great work environment at the time, and I also had quite a bit of freelance work, so it made sense to go out on my own. The result was that while on maternity leave, I started to really stress about what would happen to me. Fortunately about a month in, one of my previous employers called me and asked me if I wanted to return on a part day, so this all worked out quite well and it definitely relieved the stress.
I really hunted for a good day-care for Connor and must have visited 20. Most of them were horrific – and I walked away wondering if I should get parent lists and phone the parents and ask they what besieged them to leave their kids at these gawd-forsaken places.
I eventually found a great daycare option that was about 7 suburbs away, but they had super clean floors, a carer who was formerly a neonatal nurse at one of the private hospitals, and an apnea monitor in each cot. So their level of care really settled my paranoia.
I dropped Connor off on the first day and cried all the way back to work. I barely got in to the office and called the daycare to see how he was. Of course our kids are always fine, it is us who are absolute basket cases and need to be re-assured.
I was really rushing around as I would leave work, fly through, collect Connor and then go home and then start the home routine with him. I had a char in once a week to help me with the house, but the rest I did.
I gradually started to get disillusioned and then angry with my partner Kennith. I felt that “we” had been pregnant, and “we” had a son, but somehow all the responsibility of caring for this baby seemed to fall on to my shoulder. I recall Connor having a fever and throwing up one night and I went to sleep on the floor in his room with him, so that Kennith could get a good night’s sleep. The fact that I had to also be at work the next day, really did not seem to be that important. I really was angry. The next morning he came through all bright-eyed, shower fresh to kiss me good-bye as I looked all blurry eyed and smelt of many layers of puke.
I realized how our roles were slowly changing. Before we were equal in everything, now I seemed to be taking on the “mommy” role, while I felt that he went to work and took on the “absentee father” role.
My anger and frustration at the situation accumulated. It was always my responsibility to sort out Connor – whether he was sick or well, it fell on to my shoulders. When Connor went on to solids, Kennith said he would he home to feed him – that would be their bonding thing. I think he managed it once and then never could get home by 5:30, so then he said he would be home to bathe Connor that would be their thing. He often would not make it home by 6:30 so that also stopped. Being at home in the evening waiting for Kennith to come through that door, really made me bitter and angry.
I have always had issues of abandonment – hidden well under a “I don’t give a damn” attitude. So the fact that Kennith was getting less and less available while I needed him most, played into my abandonment issues and made me feel more alone and more desperate.
My ability to articulate my feelings were poorly developed, and my way to cope was to retaliate. I made Kennith feel less and less part of the relationship that I now had with Connor. I was consciously doing things to make him feel excluded and unwanted in this new relationship. I had no other way to communicate my desperation.
With all fabulous plans, they have a tendency to backfire in your face, and this brilliant plan was no exception. Kennith definitely felt that he was unwelcome and not needed at home.
His reaction was to seek areas where he was needed. He began to stay later and later at work, and decided that he would do the ultimate rejection and abandonment exercise. He enrolled for an MBA!!