Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Motherhood and More: Emotions spin as Mom heads back to work*

I can’t call myself a stay-at-home mom anymore.

You see, I got a real-live, brush-your-hair-every-day, leave-the-house type of job. And I’m so excited, so thrilled and so nervous.

It’s been a long time — three and a half years — since I’ve worked in an office, outside of my home. And I know it’s conceited to think the whole world stopped once I left the workforce, but in some ways, that’s how it feels. I feel like I’ve been in limbo a bit, waiting for something. I honestly didn’t have specific plans of what I would do once it was time for me to go back to work. Or even when it would be time for me to go back to work.

I’ve applied for a few jobs over the years, mostly because it’s financially difficult to live on one salary with two children. But I half hoped I wouldn’t be chosen because then I wouldn’t have to deal with leaving my kids. So it was never a huge disappointment when I didn’t get a call.

But when I saw this job, I knew it would be perfect. It’s a writing job, close by and starts part time. So maybe I can ease back into the world again.

The thing that is causing me the most anxiety, though, is my daughter.

My son was in day care from the time he was 3 months old until he was 2 1/2. And then at 3, he was in preschool. So he’s always had time away from me. He’s a social little guy and the only thing that will be different for him is he will ride the bus to a day care in the afternoon and probably will not be allowed to watch as much television as he does at home. He is, of course, terribly upset at that fact, but I’m sure he will adjust. This way, I don’t have to always be the bad guy limiting his screen time.

But my daughter always has been with me, right by my side. She was much more independent as a younger child than my son, but I think that’s because she had never really been separated from me. She knew I always would be within shouting distance.

So I’m worried about how she will take the adjustment. I’m worried there will be tears and crying and clinging and I’m worried she will do those things, too. Because it’s just starting to sink in I won’t be around her all day. Yes, of course, it has been so difficult and trying and exhausting staying at home. But I always knew she’d be in shouting distance if I needed her.

And now, I won’t know what she’s doing all day. I won’t see how much she eats for lunch or how she plays with the other kids. I won’t watch her tuck her baby dolls in on the couch because “they need to feel better.” I won’t be there to kiss a booboo or play ball during the day, or stop her from eating all the toothpaste straight out of the tube.

Part of me is relieved at being able to be a person other than Mommy again. I will be with adults most of the day and be able to think without a small child interrupting me to ask for a cup of milk. But, oh, it does hurt to think of not being available for my kids whenever they need me.

It’s a fantastic opportunity I’ve been given, one I honestly never thought I would have. I’ve been able to stay at home with my babies for longer than many other mothers. And now that it’s time, I’m able to re-enter the workforce doing something I love to do.

So, yeah. I’m lucky. And thrilled. And nervous. And excited. And sad. And terrified. And nauseous. And ecstatic.

And ready.

*This column originally published in The News-Enterprise on February 26, 2014.   

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