I remember the couple of days leading up to my first day back at work. I was going back and forth about whether I could do it. At times, I felt that if I didn’t get out of the house, I’d never smell like anything other than baby poop ever again. At other times, I felt like the worst mom on earth for even thinking of dropping off her little baby at daycare, no matter how amazing a school it is.
I remember giving Lil Man a bath, and trying to explain to him where he’d be going, and all the friends he’d meet, and making sure he knew that I’d be back faster than he’d realize to pick him up. He’d been giggly (as much as a four-month-old can be) and splashing, until I opened my big mouth. As I spoke to him, I began to lose it, which made him look at me like the world was about to end. I quickly wiped my tears and decided to enjoy the last few days I had with him, because I was never going to get them back again, and it wasn’t worth focusing on the scary thing that was coming our way.
I had wanted this, right? Didn’t I choose to go back to work so that I could give my child the same experience I remember having when I was little at my preschool. And yes, I do remember being two and three years old and going to preschool. I friggin loved it.
The first day finally arrived. I remember thinking it was so weird getting dressed that morning. I had to look professional, still be somewhat comfortable, make sure what I wore was somewhat baby-proof, and I had to be able to nurse and pump in my outfit. Oh, and try to look cute. And get the baby ready. And make sure for the millionth time that I had the eleven million parts of my pump ready to go. And that I had my laptop and my lunch. Somehow, my husband and I figured out how to get out the door on time that day.
We walked into his classroom – his new home for most of the day – and he was instantly mesmerized by a windsock hanging on the ceiling. As I put all his stuff away, made sure I had labeled his bottles correctly, filled out his daily sheet and did all the other stuff I needed to do, I kind of hoped that Lil Man acted like he needed me. He didn’t. All he needed at that point, was a comfy boppy and that windsock. I was a little heartbroken, but at the same time, I’m glad that he was mesmerized and engaged the second he walked in. That’s why I chose that school in the first place, right? Actually, that’s why he’s going to school at all.
It’s been a crazy year, full of ups and downs and all that other cliché stuff that people say. There are definitely parts that I hate: I wish I hadn’t had to pump for so many months. I wish I had more hours in the day to devote to my family and my home. And I miss him terribly every day I’m at work and the daily photos that they send have become like crack to me.
But for the most part, being a working mom (at least at this point) is the best I can do for my child. I don’t have the knowledge or energy to do an eighth of what he is able to do at school. He really loves his school, his friends and his teachers. How they incorporate all sorts of different activities, then tie them into one overall lesson, and how they hit all the different types of learning truly boggles my mind. Like today – they made instant pudding and crushed oreos and made dirt pots so they could tie it into what they are learning about spring. So, in this 20 minute activity, he learned about measuring, chemistry (seeing the liquid turn to pudding), and practicing their gross motor skills (pouring, mixing, crushing oreos, layering them). Not bad for a one-year-old.
I love that from the beginning, before he could move, he’d call for me as soon as he saw me come into his classroom to pick him up. As he learned to move, he’d make a beeline to me every afternoon. And now, when he sees me, it’s a full-out run with arms stretched out for me to wrap him up in mine and pick him up for some serious squishing.
And I like going to work and being me – not someone’s mom, or someone’s wife. Just me. I like having conversations with other adults and being able to have a meal without worrying about Lil Man choking or throwing food at the dog. And it’s awesome to know that I will not likely get covered in snot for at least a few hours of my day.
Sure, it’s hectic and complicated, but what my little guy is getting out of his school, makes it worth it. Plus, those hugs at the end of the day….pure bliss.