Earlier this week I took a day off of work, took my baby boy to his school, squeezed him, kissed his chubby cheeks, plopped him down on the floor and walked away. And I was fine with that. Until I went shopping and saw a stroller workout group, and was so jealous of the ladies huffing and puffing their post-pregnancy FUPAs off as their babies laid calmly (if not a teeny bit bored) in their all-terrain jogging strollers.
At that moment, I felt like such an inadequate mom. Not just for dumping Lil Man at school while I had a ‘me’ day (which by the way, was not exciting at all other than for lunch with the hubs and the loot I scored later that day at my Junior League meeting), but for being a working mom that always dumps her kid off at daycare. I mean, he’s the most precious thing in my life. I love him more than I can even begin to describe. Everything he does cracks me up, and his [attempt at] kisses make me melt each and every time. How can I just leave him in a room of strangers, who he now probably knows better than he knows me? How can I close the door behind me to go off to my job that, let’s face it, is not making the big bucks?
Then I remember those days when I was on maternity leave, or I was back at work but working from home, or, hell…every weekend. The truth is that I can’t keep up with Lil Man. As cute, amazing and adorable as he is, he exhausts me after half an hour. We read, we play, we sing, we play, he eats, we play, we read, we play, he naps for 20 minutes max, and then we start all over again – minus the nap. I just don’t know what to do with him. I’m not all that sure that I’m meeting his developmental needs. There have actually been moments, where I swear he looks at me like “Is that all you got, lady?” Admittedly, that was before he was mobile. Now there is an endless amount of entertainment opportunities.
I am fortunate enough that I can afford to stay home, yet here I am going to work every day. Every so often I have to remind myself why. And this is what I come up with: 1. I truly believe in preschool education – especially when he’s 2 years old and older. I remember going to preschool and it was the coolest time in my life. I credit those year (and yes, I do remember them) with my lifelong love of learning. I want to provide that for my son and any other children I may have. I could stay home now and put him in school later, but leaving a good job in a bad economy doesn’t make sense, and if I leave my job now, it will be infinitely more difficult to get a job in the future when he’s ready to go to school. Still, I didn’t think he’d get much out of it until he was a little older, but I can’t believe everything he’s learned already. He knows sign language, which I know I wouldn’t have taught him on my own. He knows how to get to what he wants, how to play with other kids. I don’t think he’d be in the same place if I were his only influence on a day to day basis. He does art projects and plays instruments and songs and read more books than Barnes and Noble has available on any given day. 2. My selfish reason: I don’t do well without outside contact. I tend to get down and a bit dark, and that’s not good for Lil Man. I need to be around people, achieving and working towards something other than getting him to take a nap. He deserves a happy, active mommy. I need the interaction, even though I’m not Miss Popularity. I think it’s because I’m shy that I tend to hibernate. I don’t want Lil Man to grow up like that. I want him to go out and make lots of friends and play all day long. And that’s exactly what he’s doing. I am so amazed by him. He actually tries to get the other kids to play chase with him in his class. And when we had people over, he was acting like he was the host himself. I half expected him to start mixing cocktails. Just last night I was out at dinner with my mommy group and one of the girls said it best: the grass will always be greener on the other side. There are pros and cons to being a work-at-home mom and a work-at-the-office mom (and goodness, I can’t even being to talk about my experience trying to do my ‘job work’ at home while ‘mommy-working’). I just have to stay true to myself and continue to do what I feel is right, realizing that that could change at any point. This sounds so easy – to do what feels right for us. Why is it so hard to just go with it?