Working From Home Has Given Me Time I Needed With My Son

Commentary, Keisa Reynolds

Last year, my son, Bailey, was born after 56 hours on Labor Day — an apt date for someone, a formerly tiny creature, who taught me how much love goes into taking care of a newborn.

The menial tasks of parenthood — changing poopy diapers, washing stained clothes, trying to remember the exact time we last fed the baby — weren’t new to me.

As the youngest of nine siblings, I helped raise their babies from an early age. At 14 years old, I woke up in the middle of the night to warm up a bottle for my sister’s son and soothed him back to sleep. At 20, my babysitting skills became invaluable labor that helped me pay my way through undergrad. By the time I had my son, at 27, I felt confident I could go through the motions.

And I did. I have been. I could survive sleep deprivation, but I was never prepared to have my heart staring right back at me as it learned to laugh, crawl and sit up for the first of many first times.

I went back to work when Bailey was seven weeks old. I worked from home two days a week, and I spent the other three staring at photos of my son while I pumped breast milk between meetings and urgent tasks. As much as I love my career, I felt like I was missing crucial parts of his early development.

Before the shelter-in-place order went into effect in Illinois, Bailey could only crawl backwards. He crawled forward after three weeks of practice. He became a master of crawling by five weeks. The order has been in effect for eight weeks now, and Bailey knows how to stand up on his own.

Working remotely full-time is a challenge, especially with an eight-month-old crawling everywhere he can, but it has given me time I needed with Bailey and would have had to sacrifice to work a job that I enjoy. Don’t get me wrong, I look forward to returning to work whenever it is safe, but I will certainly miss seeing how Bailey changes every hour. That is the brightness that keeps me going during these times.

My first year of parenthood has become unpredictable, not due to raising a kid, but the state of the world. It is scary to raise a kid in the middle of a pandemic. All he wants to do is explore the world around him, but, for now, he is limited to our small two-bedroom apartment.

Despite him not understanding, I talk to him about the organizations and individuals that we’ve supported with donations. We video chat with family members who have to wait for an unknown amount of time to meet him. I try to imagine a future for him while thinking of the thousands of lives that have been lost due to complications of COVID-19. I vacillate between feeling hopeful and hopeless on a daily basis. No matter what, I wake up every morning grateful to have a smiling face staring at me, ready to start a fresh day.

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