SYMBOL OF returning to the working world -- 6:15 a.m. alarm. After five years of freedom from that routine, it is with mixed feelings I start the week. One hour from north Arlington to Union Station, via bus subway, leaves me questioning those ads that scream "10 minutes from D.C."

Although I have six years with the Department of Human Resources' Social Rehabilitation Administration as a social worker, I am required to attend a two-day orientaion. I wonder what Joe Yeldell's thoughts are as he too returns to government service, albeit not DHR.

As an introductory exercise we pair up and trade autobiographies with a person we will introduce to the larger group of 35. Donna, my partner, and I discover we both experienced depression when we returned to America this year, Donna after four years in Germany, I after four in Rome. When the instructor asks us to comment on our reverse cultural shock, I try to compare the ambiance of life there with America.

After lunch we prepare questions for a DHR personnel specialist. One question: "Will the District government be abolished in a couple of years?"

Out early and home to my second job -- housewife and mother. Evening ends on an offbeat note as Jocelyn falls and cuts her head and Allen and I take her to a clinic. Tuesday

Up at 6:15 again and frost cupcakes for Jocelyn to take to school as her birthday treat. Stop to buy a carry-out tea and a boy attempts to steal some money.

Today we hear from and about the six administrations that comprise DHR. I give outstanding marks to Roma Kaplan, Mental Health Administration, and Domingos Lobo, Substance Abuse Administration.

Kaplan says, "Remember the dignity of the clients and that they have a right to treatment and services." We used to use "cool" as a compliment and that's how I see Lobo. What sticks with me is his comment that as long as drug abuse stayed in the ghetto it was criminal problem; when it moved into affluent areas it became a mental problem.

Self-doubts take over when I hear the SRA presentation. With 14,000-plus employees, where will I fit in and make my mark? It amuses me to hear our old adversaries, the Washington Post reporters, complimented as outreach workers who spot gaps in service. Evaluating the two days, I admit that I enjoyed the orientation. Wednesday

Allen drops me at the Pentagon and the commute is cut in half. I see Frank, a former co-worker, who guides my through the new Labor building to our office. Many familiar faces and only one person tells me I am crazy for returning.

Meet with the adoption branch chief and learn some of my duties. Will be recruiting adoptive homes, monitoring termination of parental rights proceedings and contracts with several private agencies and that lovely catch-all phrase, "other duties."

Tonight I question Jocelyn about our child care arrangements -- is she happy, etc? Her response: "Mommy, it's a good idea." Have been telling myself that guilt over leaving her has been my creation alone. Thursday

Spent today getting acquainted with new laws effecting adoptions. Pat, my former clerk-typist, comes by and we laugh about the time we were pregnant together and friends were afraid to come into our office fearing they would catch our condition.

Tonight Marguerite and I attend a retirement party for William Barr, director of SRA. It's great to see 400 other people who feel about him as I do. I love the man for what he has been.

Mayor Barry says he attends some affairs because he has to and some because he wants to, and we believe him when he says this is one he wants to attend. Yeldell comes in and slips to a table, staying just for dinner. Judge Fauntleroy is here. Bill is lauded as a "beautiful man," a "compassionate person" and Al Russo, DHR director, says he personifies "magnificent goodness." All true. How fantastic to hear things while you are still alive!

Later, Alen tells me Jocelyn said, "I love Mommy and she should stay home at night." Friday

Today is boring. The intake worker is sick so I take my turn. Only two calls from prospective adoptees. I have to tell one woman we can't accept out-of-state applications, while she shares her difficulty in finding a baby boy. The second one gives me prelimary information and I tell her she will be called for an office interview.

The day stretches on. I discover a drawer of paperback books, leading me to believe other intake workers have slow periods. I seize on "The Assisi Underground" and for a brief period I am walking the streets of one of our favorite and most frequently visited towns in Italy.

I feel relaxed coming home on the Metro knowing supper won't have to be rushed. Dave, a friend from Rome, is at the house and we all go out to dinner. Saturday

In my mind I have decided not to be caught up in house cleaning every Saturday so only the laundry gets done. Jocelyn and I go to a play by the Children's Theater of Arlington. Allen settles down to watch football and the power goes off in the neighborhood. I light four candles and try to apply eye makeup for the Marine Corps ball. Power still out when we leave so I rush to the ladies' room upon arrival at the Hilton to see if things are even and straight. Sunday

Rain cancels my nephew's soccer game so we stay inside. We finish the week with Kreeger Theater and walk to Dave's house for a glass of wine. Discuss Iran and whether relief money actually reaches the Cambodian refugee. Dave has some first-hand experience from his stint in Rome at FAO.

In bed, I think this week of re-entry has gone well.