The eve of her first day at her new school I munched on some salad before bed. I had a few croutons left over, and knowing how much my daughter loves croutons, I set them aside for her daddy to give them to her in the morning. … But then I remembered he wouldn’t give them to her in the morning. Because he’d already be gone at work.
My stomach churned as I let this reality set it. This is really happening.
I opened the fridge and scanned over our lunches packed for the next day one last time; making sure everything was in place. Then headed up to bed.
I dozed off to memories of the last year. Remembering when my daughter was just a newborn sleeping in her bassinet beside me. How tiny, yet round and chubby she was. I remembered the first time I left for work after my maternity leave and being so scared to have my husband watch over her. But he did great, we survived, and we will get through this next stage too.
My husband woke up first, extra early, partly because of nerves, but mostly to make sure he was ready for his first day. He couldn’t find something, so I got up and tried to help. Our daughter woke up amongst all of the commotion so I went in her room and laid down with her. I gave the hubs a kiss goodbye (after he found what he was looking for) and wished him good luck, then snuggled with my little girl a couple more hours before my alarm went off.
I can’t quite describe the incredible difference it is to have to get up, get ready, get my child ready, and get us both to where we need to be in time. I prepared as much as I could the night before but it’s still was a rude awakening. I never realized just how easy I had it, being able to play with my daughter til’ the last possible moment before leaving her in her pajamas with her daddy when I left for work.
Now here I am, rushing to get us both dressed, grab her bag, my bag and get out the door before I’m late to work.
I know millions of other people around the world do this every day. I’m not the only one. But holy cow, people need to have more respect for people who do this. I now have more sympathy for my mom, who did this with FIVE kids, and for every parent around the world who’s challenged with this extra task.
Dropping her off at her school was the worst part. Not because I don’t like it or that I don’t trust her teachers–I am so very happy with where she is.–But because seeing her face when she realizes I’m leaving her is gut wrenching. It was bad before, when I left her with her dad, but this magnifies the situation.
I work weekends and have Mondays and Tuesdays off. Monday last week I went to her school with her. We played with the toys together, and she got acclimated with the place. Tuesday I went to a movie and dropped her off for a few hours. So by Wednesday, her first day, she knew I wasn’t staying this time, and she didn’t want me to put her down.
Her teachers pulled out some toys and tried to distract her while I said goodbye and snuck out, but she realized I was gone before I had time to get down the hall, and I heard that.
I cried because she cried.
That day at work felt like the longest day ever. I kept watching the clock waiting for my time to be up so I could pick her up and see her face light up when her mom entered the room. The best part of my day was seeing an email pop up in my inbox with the subject line “Hi mom!” and seeing this photo.
|Ruffle Bib by Smitten Heart|
I imagined how she’d react when she saw me again. I thought she’d run to me, or do her super fast crawl the way she did when I’d come home from work and see her after she spent the day with daddy.
Sadly, the scene didn’t play out as I imagined. I arrived and she whined for me while raising her hands as if she was saying “Pick me up NOW!” No smiles, no laughs.
She hit me over and over in the chest. Her signal for me to feed her when she doesn’t feel like signing the word. Every day until today I’d hug and kiss her when I got home then immediately nurse her. It’s kind of our way to reconnect. But I told her to wait until we got home.
She had a good day at school. She played with paint and they gave me her hand prints on paper, along with a report for how she ate, played and slept that day. I was relieved to have her in my arms again.
Now the funny thing is I can’t seem to understand why now that she’s at school, I feel worse for leaving her. She would cry sometimes when I’d leave her with her dad. I’d get sad but not to this extent. I know here she’s learning and playing with other kids, and loved by her teachers. She’s probably having more fun than she ever did before. But the guilt still gets to me.
|Mudpie Dress via Lollipop Moon; Robeez Shoes via Consignment|
At night I want to hold her a little longer before setting her down. And if she cries for a moment or two before falling asleep I feel 10Xs worse, as if she’s telling me how mad she is about leaving her someplace else that day.
Thursday I dropped her off and we both cried harder than the day before. I hugged her and told her I’d pick her up after work, then tried to leave before anyone noticed my tears. How am I going to do this every day? I thought. Other working mothers tell me it doesn’t really get easier. Great. And I don’t have my husband to call and console me during the day because he’s busy getting his butt whipped at his job. No outside communication the whole day.
There was a glimmer of hope though. Thursday, when I picked her up, she smacked my chest again and I told her I’d feed her when we got home. Her teachers asked me if she was still nursing and when I told them I was, they invited me to sit and feed her in the recliner in her room. It was such a relief.
When she was done she perked up and jumped off my lap, ready to show me around her classroom and introduce me to her new friends. She was a different little girl. I made note of this and decided I’ll nurse her from now on when I pick her up.
This new adventure of ours is really hard. But it’s just one of many new adventures we’ll have to endure as a family. Things aren’t going to be the exact same forever, and as much as I’d love to freeze our lives in place at times, I can’t. I can only make best of the situation we’re in and work toward the even better.
I know many women who read my blog mentioned they have been through this or will be going through this. I can now tell you myself that it’s hard. Really hard. But it’s not the end of the world. Children are resilient and whether they spend all day every day with you; Or most of the day most days, they will still love you, and always know you’re mommy.