Those two words connote So Damn Much.
Before I became one, I thought I knew.
I’ve worked in ECE for 13 years. I’ve seen the juggling acts Moms had to pull at my classroom door, trying to comfort and respond to the emotional needs of their child, while simultaneously attempting to pry their child from their leg in order to make it on time to work.
I’ve seen Moms apologize profusely that even though their youngest child was sick, they were still sending their other one to school/daycare because they just couldn’t handle the both of them at once.
I’ve seen Moms looking polished and coiffed in their heels and trousers, hair and makeup done; jam-covered, sticky-fingered child riding in on their hip to a day of being taken care of by me, and not them. A quick baby wipe to rid themselves of the jam on their pants, a quick kiss and hug to the small human now entrusted to me, and Poof. Insta-Working Mom, off to do battle in the corporate world.
I’ve seen it. I’ve observed it. I’ve marveled at it. I’ve bowed my head in deep respect to it, and now, I AM it.
A Working Mom.
And, let me tell you- it is Fucking Hard.
It’s kind of like marriage, in a way.
When I first went back to work June 15th, and Sadie had her first day at dayhome, we were both in the honeymoon phase.
Everything about my new job was exciting. I was so eager to learn all that I could, to impress my new managers and to make friendships with my new colleagues.
Sadie had a whole new environment to discover, a host of older children who doted on her and showed her everything fun, and a new caregiver to love on her and kiss her and hold her when she needed comfort.
Now that we’ve both been in our new environments for almost three months, the honeymoon phase is waning.
Don’t get me wrong- I still LOVE my new job, and Sadie still LOVES her dayhome.
But as far as it comes to ‘us’, the Sadie and I that once were, during my Covid-extended maternity leave, we are struggling. We’re struggling hard.
She is teething. She has a molar coming in up top and one on the bottom, both pushing their evil spikes through her gums, wrecking her sleep pattern, and making her straight-up Mean to deal with.
There is also a boy at her dayhome close in age to her who competes with her for toys. He occasionally hits her, and he yells ‘No! Mine!’ at her all day long.
I worked in ECE- I get it. This stuff happens. I know that my dayhome provider is doing her absolute best to break up their fights when they happen, and to prevent the fights from happening in the first place.
But- when I come to pick Sadie up after my long and often challenging days at work, I ask her how her day was. And she responds by slapping me in the face and yelling ‘No! Mine!’.
I get it- she doesn’t have words yet, so she’s communicating with me Exactly how her day was.
So, we’re working on it. A firm ‘No. We Don’t Hit Mommy’ every time she slaps at me, and if repeated more than three times in a row, a firm grip on her fingers/hands so that she can’t hit me again, and another stern ‘NO’, followed by a re-direct to a different activity/environment. When she’s out of her anger zone, I ask her if she wants a hug or a kiss, and 80% of the time, she takes me up on the offer.
It’s a process, and we’re working on it, but back to the beginning.
It is So hard to wake up, get presentable, be someone’s Mom for half an hour, load them into the car, get them to dayhome on time, get myself to work on time, work my ass off all day, get back in the car, make it to dayhome on time, and then get slapped in the face and screamed at the whole way home.
It’s so hard to try and keep her happy with a zillion different objects/snacks for that 20 minute drive home. Then to try and bond with her in that 30 minute window we have between pulling up to the house and dinner time.
Then it’s a fight to get her to eat the healthier parts of her dinner. Then off to the bath, which is usually another nice reprieve. She’s usually happy in there, so I often use that time to sit on the toilet lid and eat my cold dinner while supervising her.
Then it’s off to bed. She’s too ‘big’ now (read: too cool!) to snuggle with me in her rocking chair before bed now, so it’s a quick kiss and I love you and deposit her into her crib.
When I close to the door to her room, I feel equal parts relieved and sad.
I’m relieved the little monster is off to bed and I get some ‘me’ time, but I’m also so friggin sad that this is what life is now.
I work. She goes to dayhome. We come together again at the end of the day and we fight. And then we go off to our separate bedrooms and we do it all again the next day.
I miss her. I miss her so much.
I got this idea the other day. How nice it would be to just blow off work for the afternoon and go get her. Go scoop her up from dayhome and have this amazing bonding time, just the two of us.
But then I had to laugh.
She’s a Toddler. She’s spreading her wings. She needs that separation from me to become who she is, so if I took her home early from dayhome, she would just want to play by herself in the sandbox, or her playhouse, or the living room.
These days, I’m allowed to be an observer of her. She keeps me at arm’s length, and I get to watch her become who she is. It’s neat and I’m proud of her, but I also miss her, and I miss what we had.
This is all I have the energy to type for tonight, but I’m glad I did.
I needed to get it all off my chest. I needed to vent. And I need other Moms in my boat to know that I’m with you. Being a Working Mom is fucking Hard.
I’m off to go have a bath and silence my phone now. Get some nice folk music playing in there, and try and get my shoulders to relax.
If you’ve been in this boat before and can offer some sage advice, please do.
I’m all ears.