That’s how old Rei will be soon. In just a few days. Four days. In four days, she’ll be three months old.
This is why I couldn’t sleep last night.
Almost immediately after Rei was born, I started to miss work. Badly. I texted work people, asking what they were doing. I checked email (and I am the type of person who never checks email when away from work; who thinks working on vacation is a form of self-loathing; who has never been defined by a job). I even contemplated asking if there was something I could do, some little project I could help with while working remotely, with no deadlines and the understanding that as long as my baby kept insisting on being held all day long, I’d probably never get the work done and sorry, what was I thinking? I mean, I really MISSED it, in this yearning, pathetic sort of way.
Somehow, my brain had compartmentalized my baby and my work. I was happy, ecstatic, in love with my little girl. I also missed my old life. And one did not cancel out the other.
But last night (or early this morning, rather), after I nursed Rei and she went back to sleep, I realized she would be three months on Monday. I almost bolted upright before remembering how noisy our comforter is. I would have gone downstairs to cry if I could have done it without risking her waking up. Because…three months. Which means, if I go back to work at nine months as planned, I only have six months left of this. Two-thirds left. A measly two-thirds.
I never registered that working would mean I wouldn’t be spending my days with her. And nine months seemed like such a long time off. I’d be ready to go back by then. I’d be bored. I’d be dying to be something other than a mom.
But dates and definitions can distance you from reality, from feelings. Thing is, I expected to love my daughter. I didn’t expect to like her so much already, to enjoy her company, to feel such a kinship with her. My days are hard, to be sure, much harder than any job ever was. They’re not always fun and sometimes they full-on suck. But it’s what I do. It’s what I do for her.
I’m with her, all the time. And today I can hardly contemplate not being with her.
When I finally fell back to sleep this morning, I dreamed I went back to work, Rei in tow. I had to cross a river to get to the office. My cat Yoshi got lost in the woods. In the foyer was an old frozen yogurt machine. No one knew who I was. It was the kind of dream where you’re in a bizarro world; a place that’s real but not real.
Except for Reiden, in my arms. The one thing that made perfect sense.