I thought it would be much easier than it was.
I’ve spent the past three and a half years desperate for time to myself. I would have days were all I wanted was some time to clear my head of the constant chatter and noise that comes with staying at home with two small children.
And I felt so horrible about that need to be away from my kids. I’ve made no secret about how difficult my youngest can be – my wild girl, my fierce little lady. And the thought of having a break with nothing whatsoever to do filled me with glee transposed with extreme guilt.
The excitement I felt with starting a new job, with being out in the world again was palpable. But then I also felt like I wasn’t being mother enough to my kids. I shouldn’t want to be away, right? I should prefer to stay where I was.
I gave myself a week to get Adele used to being in daycare before I started work. I thought I could ease her into it, going part time before she went for a full day. And that way I could also have free time - glorious, uninterrupted time where I would do whatever I wanted whenever I wanted with no one wiping their snot on my pants or ‘brushing’ my hair until I’d lost half of it.*
The first day I dropped her off was much, much more difficult than I’d anticipated. She cried, which I expected, because this was a completely new situation that I was thrusting her into. But I did not expect the tightening in my own stomach, my own tears, or my inability to do anything all day but focus on wondering what she was doing, and how she was feeling.
I’m hard on myself. I know it. But a lot of times I feel like I’m not sensitive enough. I mean, I know I’m crazy sensitive in certain respects, but I worry that I’ve lost that sensitivity, or even empathy, when it comes to my own children. I worry that I focus too much on what I have to do rather than what it would be fun to do. I don’t play very well with my kids. Or rather, I don't play well energetically. I’ll read them whatever books they want me to, or work puzzles and have tea parties, but I probably won’t let them tackle me. As my son says, “Mommy doesn’t wrestle.”
But as I was saying, I worry that I am too eager to be away from them, and that I’m not enjoying them as I should be. I love them and want to make them extraordinarily happy, but I also want a break from them. And that makes me feel bad.
So my excitement over my own free time quickly was downgraded when I realized that I missed my little girl. I missed her face and her smile and her sweet kisses. I missed her climbing on the sink in the bathroom to get her own bandaids because I wouldn’t get her a 10th one. I missed her dancing and singing and our tree tent tea parties. And then my son wasn’t there in the afternoon as he normally was, and I missed that, too. I missed being with him to ask about his day and peek in his backpack. I missed him begging to watch just one more show.
It was too quiet. And I was too bored. I couldn’t do anything. I couldn’t make myself do anything. And all I wanted to do was pick up the kids. I looked forward to the time to pick them up.
It was a strange feeling for me. It was the longest I’d ever continually been away from Adele, and the longest I’d been away from Sebastian since he was little. This is, of course, except for their sleepovers with their grandparents but those don’t count because they spend the entire time being spoiled.
But that yearning for the kids caused me to feel much better, like I wasn’t as horrible at this motherhood thing as I originally thought. And that has actually made it easier to leave them, if that makes sense.
I do miss my kids. And it’s been really hard being away from them.
But oh, I’m so happy to be back at work. I was thinking earlier that this is the perfect place for me. I used to work at Western and always loved working in that environment. I loved being around people who were learning, who were growing. And I loved being in the academic atmosphere. I was sad to leave it.
But I also loved working in the newspaper environment. I loved creating and design and writing. And this job incorporates both of those aspects – I get to work at a college again, and I get to be creative.
So nobody pinch me because I don't want to wake up.
* An aside – every time Adele sees me sitting at the computer in our house she’ll run and get the detangler spray and a brush and her box of hair things and "fix" my hair for me. It is tortuously painful but so adorable that I allow it. Plus she always apologizes when she pulls my hair.