A year of transition…
This week, marks one full year since I began working full time and Noah started going to preschool. It has been a year-long transition that is still a work in progress as neither of us is still fully settled into our new(ish) roles.
There are those days that I can’t get him to school fast enough. These are the mornings that we are awakened at 4:30am to the cries of, “Mommy- I’m all wet!” We regretfully crawl out of bed mumbling to each other about the foolishness of letting him drink 2 full glasses of milk after 7pm the night before. We get him changed and redressed only to find ourselves playing with trains and play-doh for the next 2 hours before the sun comes up. Matt and I play tag-team showers, throw in a bribe or 2 to get him to take his vitamin and put his jacket on. He screams the whole drive about how much he hates school while kicking the back of my seat. When I pull into the parking lot, he can’t get out of the car fast enough, darts into his classroom, and shoves me out the door as if to say, “Okay mommy, I’m done with you.” I take a deep breath and head off to work thinking about how the rest of my day should be rather predictable.
Then there are the days that I wake up earlier than usual just because I want to stare at the monitor and see how peaceful he is when he’s sleeping. He holds his stuffed animals so close and so tight- just like I did as a child. I can hear him breathing- so even, so gently, so innocent. I get up and get ready for another long day at work- all the while knowing that I have a full 8 hours at one job and then 3 hours at another job before I get to squeeze him again. I walk into his room and I am greeted with, “Hi mommy! I dreamed about puppy doggies!” We eat breakfast, get dressed, and sing Old McDonald all the way to school (I let Noah pick the animals on the farm and he always picks either cow or sheep- no exceptions. We just moo and baa a lot!) When I get him in to his classroom, he doesn’t want to let me go. He holds on so tight, just like he does with his stuffed animals. We finally have one last big hug, his teacher peels him out of my arms, and I wave goodbye to the saddest and sweetest face in the world.
Those are the days that make me question my decision to go back to work. I was so amazingly lucky to be able to stay at home with Noah for the first 18 months of his life. Yeah- it was hard. But not near as hard as seeing his little face, streaked with tears, as I leave him behind for an 11 hour work day. But, then again, working 2 jobs is so much easier than reading Where the Wild Things Are 14 times in a row or struggling for 37 minutes to get him to brush his teeth.
When I started looking for a full time job a year ago, I was already working at night. Just like now, I saw clients after 5pm when Matt got home from work. It was tough leaving him behind for 3 or 4 hours when he was so little but it was so amazing to see how excited he got when I came home. But gradually, he and I both began to need more than either of us could give. I yearned for more adult time and Noah needed to be around more kids. He got faster and more talkative and I realized quickly that I wasn’t enough.
After talking to my neighbors who have a son just a little older than Noah, we found an amazing preschool that I felt really comfortable with. I accepted a new job and told them I needed 2 weeks to adjust to this earth-shattering change in my life. I spent 1 full week soaking in all that was Noah. We did everything I could think of- knowing that it would never be the same. The second week, we took him to school. I stayed in his classroom for over an hour, totally unable to leave my baby behind. I watched him play and interact. He laughed and giggled. When I finally left, I was sobbing hysterically and had to sit in my car for another 30 minutes in order to compose myself. I went to the gym where I cried for 3 miles on the treadmill. That afternoon, I couldn’t pick him up fast enough.
Drop off is a lot easier now- most days. And I pick him up at least once a week so I can watch him run, arms pumping and face beaming, towards me. He is so excited to see his mommy walk through the door. That moment makes all of the rough mornings worth it.
Nowadays, it is so popular to discuss which one is easier or harder- being a stay-at-home mom or a working-mom. The truth is- neither is easy. Being a mom has forever been the hardest job imaginable. There will never be a job with more responsibility, more feelings of failure, or more constant anxiety. But there will also never be a job with more rewards, more successes, or more joy. My transition is ongoing. Every day, I question my choice to work as much as I do. But just like Noah and I knew it was time to go back to work, I think we’ll just know if we need to make a change. We’re a pretty good team that way.